Bass Pro Shops buying Cabela’s

TRIADELPHIA — Cabela’s shareholders agreed Tuesday to sell the outdoor outfitter to rival Bass Pro Shops for roughly $4 billion, or $61.50 per share.

This means the store and distribution center that were the first tenants of the development now known as the Highlands in Ohio County will soon have new owners, pending banking regulators’ final approval. The development opened along Interstate 70 in 2004.

“We are pleased that our combination with Bass Pro Shops has received the overwhelming support of Cabela’s shareholders,” Cabela’s CEO Tommy Millner said Tuesday regarding the deal originally announced in October. “Today’s results are an important milestone as we look forward to completing the merger and creating the premier retailer in outdoor sporting goods, with an unparalleled commitment to customer loyalty and satisfaction.”

Sporting goods retailers, like the rest of the retail sector, have been under pressure because of changing shopping patterns. Cabela’s officials have said they expect the sale to close later this year, but banking regulators must approve the sale of Cabela’s credit card unit, which is part of the deal.

After the buyout, the company will be based in Bass Pro’s hometown of Springfield, Mo. It’s not yet clear how many of the roughly 2,000 workers at Cabela’s headquarters of Sidney, Neb., will be kept on.

Ohio County Commission President Orphy Klempa also is a board member of the county Development Authority, which oversees the Highlands.

“We are under the impression that everything will be status quo,” he said Tuesday. “At this point, we have no reason to believe their are going to be any changes.”

Klempa said agreements made by the state of West Virginia — such as the sales tax increment financing plan, which allows sales tax collected at Cabela’s to be used to repay bonds that were issued for the store’s construction — would remain in place with a new owner.

“They pay their taxes just as any other business does. It doesn’t matter who owns the store,” Klempa said.

He said the Highlands store has been one of Cabela’s top performers over the years, and he believes its location along Interstate 70 between Pittsburgh and Columbus makes it an attractive entry point for Bass Pro Shops into the region.

“That is the showpiece of the Highlands. Everything we have up there now is because Cabela’s came,” Klempa said.

Klempa acknowledged, however, the concept of online shopping has changed retail industry tremendously during the last several years.

“My biggest concern is these stores having to compete with online sales,” he said. “To maintain an amenity like the Highlands, people have to shop there.”

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