Worlds Collide: Bass Pro Shops Acquires Cabela’s

What has been a looming possibilty since April has taken a giant leap forward as Bass Pro Shops moves to acquire outdoor retailer Cabela’s for a tidy sum of $5.5 billion.

Cabela sold to Bass Pro

The two outdoor sporting giants are slated to close the deal in early 2017. The deals was unanimously approved by Cabela’s board of directors, but it’s still subject to approval by Cabela’s shareholders and other closing conditions. Cabla’s has seen a 1.3% drop in sales in the first half of 2016, and saw the merger as a salve for what they claim is a drop in demand for clothing and footwear.

Johnny Morris, billionaire CEO of the privately held Bass Pro Shop, will remain the CEO of the new outdoor retail juggernaut.

Find out more details in the full press release below:

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. & SIDNEY, Neb.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s Incorporated (NYSE:CAB), two iconic American outdoor companies with similar humble origins, and with a shared goal to better serve those who love the outdoors, today announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Bass Pro Shops will acquire Cabela’s for $65.50 per share in cash, representing an aggregate transaction value of approximately $5.5 billion.

In addition, upon closing Bass Pro Shops will commence a multi-year partnership agreement with Capital One, National Association, a wholly-owned national banking subsidiary of Capital One Financial Corporation (NYSE: COF), under which Capital One will originate and service the Cabela’s CLUB, Cabela’s co-branded credit card, and Bass Pro Shops will maintain a seamless integration between the credit card program and the combined companies’ retail operations and deep customer relationships. All Cabela’s CLUB points and Bass Pro Shops Outdoor Rewards points will be unaffected by the transactions and customers can continue to use their credit cards as they were prior to the transaction. Capital One intends to continue to operate the Cabela’s CLUB servicing center in Lincoln, Nebraska.

A driving force behind this agreement is the highly complementary business philosophies, product offerings, expertise and geographic footprints of the two businesses. The essence of both Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s is a deep passion to serve outdoor enthusiasts and support conservation. The combination brings together three of the nation’s premier sporting brands: Cabela’s, a leader in hunting; Bass Pro Shops, a leader in fishing; and White River Marine Group, a worldwide leader in boating, which is part of Bass Pro Shops.

Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s and White River Marine Group represent the best of American entrepreneurship, innovation and devotion to customers. The combined companies will strive to provide a remarkably enhanced experience for customers, increased opportunities for team members and greater support for conservation activities.


Founded in 1961 by Dick, Mary and Jim Cabela, Cabela’s is a highly respected marketer of hunting, fishing, camping, shooting sports and related outdoor merchandise. Today, Cabela’s has over 19,000 “outfitters” operating 85 specialty retail stores, primarily in the western U.S. and Canada. Cabela’s stores, catalog business and e-commerce operations will blend seamlessly with Bass Pro Shops and White River Marine Group. Over the past 55 years Cabela’s has built a passionate and loyal base of millions of enthusiasts who shop both at its retail stores and online.


Bass Pro Shops, founded in 1972 by avid young angler Johnny Morris, is a leading national retailer of outdoor gear and apparel, with 99 stores and Tracker Marine Centers located primarily in the eastern part of the U.S. and Canada. Morris started the business with eight square feet of space in the back of his father’s liquor store in Springfield, Mo., the company’s sole location for the first 13 years of business. Johnny’s passion for the outdoors and his feel for the products and shopping experiences desired by outdoor enthusiasts helped transform the industry. Bass Pro Shops, which employs approximately 20,000 team members, has been named by Forbes as one of “America’s Best Employers.” The company also operates Big Cedar Lodge, America’s Premier Wilderness Resort, welcoming more than one million guests annually to Missouri’s Ozark Mountains.


In 1978, Morris revolutionized the marine industry when he introduced the world’s first professionally rigged and nationally marketed boat, motor and trailer packages. Tracker quickly became and has remained the number one selling fishing boat brand in America for the last 37 years running. White River Marine Group offers an unsurpassed collection of industry-leading brands including Tracker Boats, Sun Tracker, Nitro, Tahoe, Regency, Mako, Ranger, Triton and Stratos.


“Today’s announcement marks an exceptional opportunity to bring together three special companies with an abiding love for the outdoors and a passion for serving sportsmen and sportswomen,” said Johnny Morris, founder and CEO of Bass Pro Shops. “The story of each of these companies could only have happened in America, made possible by our uniquely American free enterprise system. We have enormous admiration for Cabela’s, its founders and outfitters, and its loyal base of customers. We look forward to continuing to celebrate and grow the Cabela’s brand alongside Bass Pro Shops and White River as one unified outdoor family.”

“Cabela’s is pleased to have found the ideal partner in Bass Pro Shops,” said Tommy Millner, Cabela’s Chief Executive Officer. “Having undertaken a thorough strategic review, during which we assessed a wide variety of options to maximize value, the Board unanimously concluded that this combination with Bass Pro Shops is the best path forward for Cabela’s, its shareholders, outfitters and customers. In addition to providing significant immediate value to our shareholders, this partnership provides a unique platform from which our brand will be extremely well positioned to continue to serve outdoor enthusiasts worldwide for generations to come.”

“This opportunity would not be possible without the contributions of the many wonderful Cabela’s, Bass Pro Shops and White River team members,” Morris said. “All three companies are blessed to have been built by the extraordinary efforts of many tremendously talented, dedicated people throughout our respective histories, and we’re thrilled to consider what the combined team can achieve going forward.”

Following the closing of the transaction, Bass Pro Shops intends to celebrate and grow the Cabela’s brand and will build on qualities that respective customers love most about Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shops. In addition, Bass Pro Shops recognizes the strength of Cabela’s CLUB Loyalty program and intends to honor Cabela’s customer rewards and sees potential over time to expand the program in the combined company.

Bass Pro Shops appreciates and understands the deep ties between Cabela’s and the community of Sidney, Nebraska. 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.

Bass Pro Shops Founder and CEO Johnny Morris will continue as CEO and majority shareholder of the new entity, which will remain a private company with a continuing long-term view of supporting the industry and conservation. Morris earned a reputation as a leading retailer and conservationist. In 2008, the National Retail Federation named him as Retail Innovator of the Year. In 2015, the same organization named him as one of 25 People Shaping the Future of Retail in America. In 2012, The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies named Morris Citizen Conservationist of the Year.

“Conservation is at the heart and soul of Bass Pro Shops. Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s share a steadfast belief that the future of our industry, and the outdoor sports we all love, depends – more than anything else – on how we manage our natural resources,” said Morris. “By combining our efforts, we can have a profound positive impact on the conservation challenges of our day and help foster the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts.”


Bass Pro Shops is proud to have secured preferred equity financing from the Merchant Banking Division of Goldman Sachs and Pamplona to facilitate the transaction. Goldman Sachs has committed $1.8 billion and Pamplona has committed $600 million for a total preferred financing commitment of $2.4 billion.

The Merchant Banking Division of Goldman Sachs is one of the leading private equity investors in the world, focusing on assisting large, high-quality companies with best-in-class management teams to achieve their growth objectives. The division brings significant experience and a strong track record of success in supporting industry-leading founder-led businesses. Pamplona Capital Management is a New York and London based specialist investment manager established in 2005. Pamplona is currently managing its fourth private equity fund, Pamplona Capital Partners IV, LP, which was raised in 2014. Pamplona invests long-term capital across the capital structure of its portfolio companies in both public and private market situations.


The transaction provides Cabela’s shareholders with a premium of 19.2% to Cabela’s closing share price on Sep. 30, 2016, the day prior to announcement of the transaction, 39.7% to the closing share price on Dec. 1, 2015, the day before Cabela’s announced its exploration of strategic alternatives and 57.1% to the 90-day volume weighted trading average prior to Dec. 1, 2015. Immediately prior to closing, Capital One will acquire certain assets and assume certain liabilities of Cabela’s World’s Foremost Bank. The cash proceeds from this transaction will remain with Cabela’s until it is acquired by Bass Pro Shops.

The transaction agreements were unanimously approved by Cabela’s Board of Directors following a comprehensive review of strategic and financial alternatives.

The transaction, which is expected to close in the first half of 2017, will be completed through a cash merger and is subject to approval by Cabela’s shareholders, as well as regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.

J.P. Morgan served as exclusive financial advisor to Bass Pro Shops and Latham & Watkins served as Bass Pro Shops’ legal counsel, with expert assistance from O’Melveny & Myers. Goldman, Sachs & Co. served as financial advisor to The Merchant Banking Division of Goldman Sachs and Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP served as legal advisor. Goldman, Sachs & Co. also served as advisor to Bass Pro Shops on the bank transaction, and Morrison & Foerster served as legal counsel. BofA Merrill Lynch, Wells Fargo Securities LLC, Citigroup Global Markets Inc., RBC Capital Markets, UBS Securities LLC, and Goldman Sachs are providing debt financing to support the transaction.

Guggenheim Securities served as exclusive financial advisor to Cabela’s and Sidley Austin LLP and Koley Jessen P.C., L.L.O. served as Cabela’s legal counsel.

The Kessler Group and Credit Suisse acted as financial advisers to Capital One and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz and Chapman and Cutler acted as legal advisers.

28 thoughts on “Worlds Collide: Bass Pro Shops Acquires Cabela’s”

  1. What ever happen to the law on monopolizing? All these companies selling to other large companies and making one giant company. All for the good of who? Surely not my pocket! There Buying up the competition and will be able the charge what ever they want for there goods.

  2. I haven’t bought any obscenely overpriced crap from either of these two companies for years. IMHO Cabela’s had the better quality products and better customer service of the two although I have heard/read that they were a lousy company to work for. No doubt the variety of selection will go south as the prices without the main competitor around will head north….they both seemed to like spending a great deal on real estate and building/development cost for their retail locations….the only thing those stores lack is reasonable prices and a Sunday brunch buffet.

  3. The only thing we have in Palm Beach County is Gander Mountain, aka, Gander Jewelry Store. The ideal time to visit this place was during the Grand Opening as they had the best prices. Now, not so. Ads online never seem to match in-store inventory and that includes the price, always higher in the store. Online price; oh, that was an ‘old’ price. Yeah, right. Last visit was 3 years ago and it was just that—-a visit.
    We have neither Bass or Cabela’s here locally and the closest Bass Pro is in Pt. St. Lucie north of us. Visited a Cabela’s in Louisville, KY once about 2 years ago; it was YUUUUUUUGE!! No Cabela’s in FL.

  4. How in the world will Field and Stream compete with this acquisition? Not for me to worry over. We shall see how long it takes for Cabela’s brand to disappear.

    1. Probably before the ink dries. OR – it will all be rebranded junk that wouldn’t sell at Bass Pro, that way when the stores finally fail and they get closed to keep Bass Pro afloat, Johnny will be able to write off the debt and taxes for decades.

      It’s official – the Securities and Exchange Commission has been sold to Goldman Sachs.

  5. Although I have not done much buying at either company in the last ten or so years, I am going to wade in on this discussion. I was one of Cabelas first customers way back in 1961. But, I quit shopping with them when I got “screwed over” a few times, and their firing of an employee, who on his own time, was very anti-illegal immigration in the state of Nebraska. On the other hand, Bass Pro Shops have been really good to shop with-never have I ever had any problems with them. I don’t know how their pricing will be after the takeover, but in my area there’s an outfit called Sportsman’s Warehouse that is very competitive on prices and service.

    1. Sportsman’s is more competitive in most respects here too. It is nice having both as they have some competition between them.

      Never had a Bass Pro nearby so I guess we will see what happens now.

  6. There are no Cabelas in California that I know of. I think the nearest store is near Reno, Nevada. Bass Pro Shops has a store in the Central Valley – nothing even close to the California coast and north. Maybe they will look at our huge market.

    1. You have any water left to fish in out there ?
      I know you’re not going to be buying guns from them … not with Brown in charge.

    2. I’m surprised any firearms related business would set up shop in calaphonia and put money into a state that actively works against them.

  7. I never liked BassPro!
    Cabelas was my store! Guess I will not be doing any more business with BassPro-Cabelas.

  8. Well they are both primarily brick and mortar, but, but, Amazon is opening store front operations for touch and feel. Competition will suffer I suppose.

  9. The people that run Cabelas are smart. They see the writing on the wall. Most of the people that frequent these type of stores are hard up for cash and these “hobby”stores take the hit first. I’m thinking in a few years we will see a lot of going out of business signs on these stores. Walmart sells the same basic crap a lot cheaper.

  10. I bought from both equally through the years.
    Cabela’s would have the same thing as BP but at a cheaper price.
    Most times Cabela’s would have what BP didn’t and vise-versa.
    I’ve got something on back order at Cabela’s now for 3 months and BP didn’t have it and still don’t list it.

    All I’ve got to say is the sportsman is screwed with nobody competing now with BP !

    Gander Mountain use to be good in the 80’s but look at them now that Overton’s / GM are one.
    I use to order boat hardware at Overton’s.
    Put the 2 together and I haven’t ordered from either since.

    That’s it I quit ordering , I’ll just use the 800+ lures that are in my boat and call it a day !
    My reserve:
    200+ Lures
    Something like 42k yards of line.
    I’ve got (I think) 8 depth finders and a zillion rod/reels so who needs any of the Mega Stores !!

    I’ll not live long enough to need to replace anything … big raspberry to them all !

  11. Although these two stores are in the same field, Cabelas product line is much more complete(when I only had Basspro near me, I always had to order from Midwayusa, because Basspro didn’t have the reloading stuff I needed). It’s almost the same as if Dicks or Gandermountain were buying out Cabelas. The road to blandness.

  12. Bass Pro Shops needs to move the Cabela’s out of Crook County and into a ‘more gun friendly” county and eliminate their 25.00 a firearm tax to Crook County.Cook County doesn’t like gun owners,,then gun owners won’t spend any money in Cook County.More sales could have been generated if Cabela’s didn’t get in bed with the Bad Governing Cook County.Bad judgement right from the start.Thanks.

  13. Sorry to hear this. Have been a cabelas dude for a long time. They never failed to take anything back for any reason. I ordered their best mountain boots for a hunt in Idaho, wore them for two weeks and couldn’t get used to them. Cabelas took them back and refunded my money.
    I have a twinge in my mind about Goldman Sachs!!! I want nothing to do with the rise of the new world order!! At my age I’ll probably be dead before the do- all credit card is forced on us. My cold dead hands!!

  14. I am really close to a Cabela’s, a Gander Mountain, and a Bass Pro not too far. The worst is Gander Mountain. They’re prices are out of this world. Don’t know how they stay in business. Too many dummies shop there I guess. Bass Pro is a close second in grotesque overpricing. Quit shopping there online. Cabela’s is not that cheap either although I do like their brand lines and often times they do have pretty darn good deals if you watch for them. After this merger I expect I will be done shopping at Cabela’s . Their prices will surely jump. I don’t like this deal. Oh well. Looks like I’ll be doing all my shopping online. Bass Pro really does suck.

  15. I am not much of a fan of either Bass Pro or Cabelas, but I think
    Bass Pro made a bad business decision: Cabelas would go out of business, eventually.
    More than once I’ve ventured into a Cabelas to purchase a couple items only to find out they show inventory but nobody knows where it is. And, when they do have inventory they were second only to Bass Pro in how much they wanted for the product. Which sums up why I don’t like either one of them.
    Then there is the issue of quality. Clothing: Over-priced and poor quality. Why anyone would pay $35-50 dollars for a l/s
    fishing shirt is beyond me. Especially since I can visit a local store and often purchase the same or similar shirt for $16.

    The only thing I’ll miss is the aquariums and trophy animals throughout the store.

  16. I have been hearing rumors of the demise of Cabelas since antelope hunting in western NE last fall. I have to admit that Cabela’s has lost their way in terms of managing promotions with paper mailers over the last year or so, but I always liked their stores and backing of their products. I have been a fan of Johnny Morris since staying at big Cedar Lodge over the years and his stores were well run and stocked too. I wish the two companies luck as the acquisition comes to fruition. My hope is that their many talented associates can land on their feet!

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