Bass Pro Shops is buying Cabela’s in $5.5 billion deal

By Aaron Smith

NEW YORK  -- Bass Pro Shops is buying Cabela's in a $5.5 billion deal that brings together two prominent outfitters for the great outdoors.

Bass Pro Shops sells fishing supplies, and Cabela's is a hunting store known for its taxidermy displays. There's plenty of crossover -- especially because both companies sell guns and ammunition.

Cabela said its stockholders would be paid $65.50 in cash per share. Cabela's stock jumped 15% at the start of trading.

Johnny Morris, founder of Bass Pro Shops, assured customers in an open letter that "there will be no immediate impact to our stores."

The companies did not immediately respond to CNNMoney messages about whether any of Cabela's 19,000 employees would eventually be laid off or any of its 85 U.S. and Canadian stores closed.

Bass Pro Shops, which is privately held, said it would honor Cabela's rewards cards and credit cards.

Cabela's stores have a distinctive rustic decor featuring displays of stuffed bears, deer, elk and moose. Some of the larger stores resemble theme parks or natural history museums, with extravagant displays of Arctic landscapes with stuffed Musk oxen, or African landscapes with stuffed elephants.

Much of Cabela's merchandise is camouflage and camping gear, including tents and bear-proof food kegs. The company is also known for its so-called gun libraries, green-walled rooms with antique guns for sale, including firearms from both World Wars.

The deal is being financed by Goldman Sachs and Pamplona.

Utah has two Cabela’s stores and one a Cabela’s Distribution Center in Tooele. Some customers FOX 13 News spoke to at the Lehi location, Monday, welcome the change.

“I’ve been to the Bass Pro Shops in Nashville, Tennessee and they had a really good selection. I think they had better customer service,” said customer Lyle Waite.

Others worry they’ll lose out on quality of service and Cabela’s lifetime warranty on products.

“I’ve had things for years. It’s gone out, or worn out, whatever and brought it back in. And I’m given a brand new item,” said customer Abe Lucero.

Bass Pro Shops has yet to comment on the warranty, but say the rewards programs are not affected by the merger. Points are valid at their respective brands.

Ron Sellers, a loyal Cabela’s customer, hopes the new owners won’t tamper with the stores museum quality experience.

“Have you been to the Farmington store? They have done a display of the animals there that’s unreal to anywhere I’ve been and I’ve been all over,” Sellers said.

The companies expect the deal to be approved in the first half of 2017.