Bass Pro Said to Win Auction for Outdoor-Gear Rival Cabela’s

  • Retailer said to beat private-equity firm Sycamore Partners
  • Activist investor Elliott Associates had pressed for a sale

Bass Pro Shop Reels In Cabela's in $5.5 Billion Deal

Bass Pro is close to acquiring Cabela’s Inc. in a deal that would unite two of America’s largest outdoor-sports equipment retailers, according to people familiar with the matter.

Closely held Bass Pro beat out competition from private equity bidder Sycamore Partners, the people said. While the price and terms are still being completed and an agreement isn’t certain, the deal could be announced as soon as Monday, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private.

Cabela’s, which has been under pressure from activist investor Elliott Associates to pursue a sale, began a strategic review of its businesses in December. Revenue and profit growth had sputtered as a surge in gun sales abated, and the company said in October of last year that “significant weakness” in its fall apparel and footwear contributed to a disappointing third quarter. Less than a week later, Elliott disclosed an 11 percent stake and said it would push for a shakeup.

Shares in the Sidney, Nebraska-based company have surged 18 percent this year after dropping 30 percent in the two years through 2015. The stock climbed 2.6 percent to $54.93 in New York on Friday.

Neither Bass Pro nor Cabela’s representatives were available for comment outside of regular business hours.

Cabela’s was founded by brothers Richard and Jim Cabela in 1961. Richard died last year, and Jim, now in his mid-70s, still serves as chairman.

Bass Pro was founded by Johnny Morris in 1971, working out of his father’s liquor store in Springfield, Missouri, according to the company’s website. Morris is worth about $3.3 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

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