After nearly two years and $4 billion, the industry-changing merger between Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s has been completed. The two finalized their agreement Monday in a deal that could affect thousands of employees and dozens of stores to one degree or another.
Publicly traded Cabela’s was put on the sales path by Elliott Management, an activist investor who held an 11 percent stake in the company. In October 2015, after a 21 percent decline in Cabela’s stock price, Elliott Management disclosed its stake percentage in the company and called for it to “explore strategic alternatives.” As a result, Cabela’s began reaching out to private equity firms to solicit interest.
Bass Pro publicly expressed interest in Cabela’s in April 2016, partnering with Goldman Sachs to provide the financing needed for the purchase. The outdoor juggernauts originally agreed on paying $65.50 per Cabela’s share, but in April 2017 that number was revised to $61.50, changing the total sales price from $5.5 billion to $4 billion. The Federal Trade Commission OK’d the merger on July 3, 2017, followed by a special vote by Cabela’s shareholders on July 11, 2017. Cabela’s CEO Tommy Millner said the deal received “the overwhelming support of Cabela’s shareholders,” but the actual results were not disclosed at that time. The final tally was to be included in Cabela’s regulatory filing.
The word “synergy” was used throughout the years-long process. With BPS prominent in the Southeast and Cabela’s primarily located in the Northeast and West, the two are not expected to close many store locations as a result of the merger. However, many wonder what will happen to the former Cabela’s headquarters in Sidney, Nebraska. Although BPS is expected to headquarter both companies in Springfield, Missouri, it has expressed support for its former rival’s birthplace.
“Bass Pro Shops appreciates and understands the deep ties between Cabela’s and the community of Sidney, Nebraska,” the company said in a 2016 press release. “Dick, Mary, and Jim Cabela founded their company in Sidney in 1961, and the company has flourished with its base of operations there ever since. Bass Pro Shops intends to continue to maintain important bases of operations in Sidney and Lincoln and hopes to continue the very favorable connections to those communities and the Cabela’s team members residing there.”
“This transaction will create the truly premier retailer in outdoor sporting goods,” Cabela’s said in its own 2016 statement. “Combining our two companies will enhance our ability to serve outdoor enthusiasts with complementary product offerings and an expanded geographic footprint. We are excited about the benefits and opportunities this transaction will provide for our customers and Outfitters.”
The two companies are legendary among sportsmen. Bass Pro Shops was founded in 1971 by Johnny Morris, who sold fishing gear from his father’s liquor store. Cabela’s was created by brothers Dick and Jim Cabela in 1961; from $45 worth of fishing flies, the company grew to become synonymous with museum-quality wildlife exhibits. Read more about each company’s humble beginnings in “Legends & Legacies,” written by David Cabela.