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Outdoor giant Bass Pro to acquire rival Cabela’s for $4.5B

OMAHA, Neb. — Outdoor gear giant Bass Pro is snapping up rival Cabela’s in a $4.5 billion deal announced Monday.

Cabela’s announced in July it was planning to build its first New Mexico store at the southwest corner of Interstate 25 and Paseo del Norte.

“As far as we know, (they are) proceeding as planned,” said Kurt Browning, chief development officer for Titan Development, the project’s managing partner.

The company on Sept. 22 filed for a building permit with the city for the $8.6 million, 68,846-square-foot project, according to city records.

Bass Pro founder and CEO Johnny Morris said he hopes to continue growing the Cabela’s brand alongside his privately-held Springfield, Mo.-based chain.

“The story of each of these companies could only have happened in America, made possible by our uniquely American free enterprise system,” Morris said. “We have enormous admiration for Cabela’s, its founders and outfitters, and its loyal base of customers.”

Bass Pro is paying Cabela’s shareholders $65.50 cash per share, a 19 percent premium to Friday’s closing price. The companies valued the deal at $5.5 billion, which includes debt. The deal combines two companies known for their giant destination superstores.

The news caused uncertainty about jobs in Cabela’s home state of Nebraska. The combined companies plan to keep some operations in Sidney and Lincoln, Neb., but it’s not immediately clear how many jobs might be lost.

Activist investment firm Elliott Management began pushing for significant changes at Cabela’s last fall. Elliott owns 7.4 percent of Cabela’s shares and holds options to buy another 3.8 percent. A sale of Cabela’s has been a distinct possibility ever since the company announced a review of its strategic options last December.

Cabela’s was founded in 1961 when Dick Cabela started selling fishing flies through the mail from his kitchen table with his wife, Mary, and brother, Jim. It now has 85 retail stores primarily in the western U.S. and Canada.

Bass Pro got its start in 1971 when Morris began selling high-quality fishing tackle in his dad’s liquor store in Springfield, Missouri.

Morris developed a following in the Ozarks region — its lakes and rich streams a haven for anglers — created the Bass Pro Shop Catalog in 1974 and opened the first of his now 99 stores in Springfield seven years later. Bass Pro’s stores are mostly in the eastern United States and Canada.