Bass Pro Shops acquires Cabela’s for $5.5 billion

Fishing and hunting equipment chain Bass Pro Shops agreed to buy rival chain Cabela's for $5.5 billion.
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Fishing and hunting equipment chain Bass Pro Shops agreed to buy rival chain Cabela's for $5.5 billion.

The agreement will help the privately held company to nearly double its store count in North America.

The offer of $65.50 a share is a 19.2 percent premium from Cabela's closing price on Friday, according to a Reuters report.

Shares of Cabela's jumped nearly 15 percent to $63 in early trading on Monday, their highest in more than a year. Until Friday’s close, they had risen 17 percent since the company said in December that it was exploring strategic alternatives.

Cabela's has struggled with declining sales of apparel and footwear and has reported same-store sales growth in only one quarter in more than three years.

The retailer had been under pressure from activist hedge fund Elliott Associates L.P, which disclosed an 11.1 percent stake in October last year, to pursue strategic alternatives.

Reuters reported Sunday that a consortium of Bass Pro Shops, Goldman Sachs Group's private equity arm and Capital One Financial was in the lead to buy the company.

The combined company will own 184 stores in the United States and Canada.

It was not immediately clear whether the acquisition would result in any store closings, but the companies said in a statement that Springfield, Mo.-based Bass Pro Shops will "celebrate and grow" the Cabela's brand, according to USA Today.

Long known for large-format destination stores, Cabela's has lost ground to smaller, nimbler competitors and online retailers. Sales at stores open at least a year fell 1.3 percent in the first half of this year, compared with a year earlier, according to a securities filing.

The number of purchases at Cabela's stores fell 8.1 percent during that period, reflecting a drop-off in foot traffic as customers bought less clothing and footwear from the retailer, although hunting sales increased and average revenue per transaction rose 8.2 percent.

The deal marks a dramatic expansion of the outdoor retailing empire controlled by Bass Pro Shops CEO Johnny Morris, who founded the company in 1972. The billionaire will lead the newly combined entity as CEO and will retain majority ownership.

Bass Pro Shops has about 99 stores and 20,000 employees. Cabela's has about 85 stores and had about 19,700 employees at the end of 2015, according to a securities filing.

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