A diorama inside a Cabela's store in Berlin, MA.
Photograph by Boston Globe via Getty Images

Cabela's shares jumped more than 8% on the news.

By Reuters
April 20, 2016

Privately held outdoor retailer Bass Pro Shops has partnered with Goldman Sachs Group’s private equity arm to make an offer for U.S. hunting and fishing store chain Cabela’s, according to people familiar with the matter.

The move gives Bass Pro the equity financing necessary to pursue Cabela’s and makes such a deal more likely, given the potential cost savings and synergies a combination of the two U.S. hunting and finishing retailers would bring.

Cabela’s shares ended trading up 6.4% at $52.51 on Tuesday, after jumping as much as 8.4% on the news, giving the company a market capitalization of $3.6 billion.

Sidney, Nebraska-based Cabela’s said in December it was working with investment bank Guggenheim Securities to explore strategic alternatives including a sale, following pressure from activist hedge fund Elliott Management Corp.

Bass Pro and Goldman’s consortium faces competition for Cabela’s from buyout firms, and the sale process is still in the early stages, the sources said on Tuesday.

Cabela’s cab has also been exploring selling its credit card business separately and received expressions of interest from other potential buyers, the sources added.

The sources asked not to be identified because the deliberations are confidential. Bass Pro and Cabela’s did not respond to requests for comment, while Goldman declined to comment.

 

As the broader sporting goods industry struggles to compete against online retailers such as Amazon.com Inc, Cabela’s and Bass Pro are offering experiences not easily replaced digitally, such as museum-quality taxidermy and shooting galleries.

Many private equity firms have refrained from investing in sporting goods retailers that sell firearms for fear of upsetting some investors. Exceptions include KKR & Co LP’s acquisition of Academy Sports + Outdoors in 2011, and Leonard Green & Partners LP’s takeover of Sports Authority Inc in 2006.

Goldman, however, taps private equity investors on a deal-by-deal basis, rather than by using a fund, so investors who do not wish to participate can opt out without already having committed to a fund.

Springfield, Missouri-based Bass Pro Shops was founded in 1971 by Johnny Morris, who still owns most of the company. Bass Pro has roughly 100 stores across North America. Reuters reported in November that Bass Pro was exploring a bid for Cabela’s.

Cabela’s was founded in 1961 by Dick Cabela and has roughly 80 stores in 36 U.S. states and nine in Canada. It also runs a large catalog business, which contributes roughly 24 percent of sales.

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