NEWS: On 11 November 2015, Billings, Montana, television station KULR published an article titled “Cabela’s Employees Concerned About Future,” reporting that a source (who spoke on the condition of anonymity) had disclosed a pending merger between two popular outdoor recreational goods chains:
We have developing news regarding a major retailer here in Billings. Sources told KULR’s Leah Jordan that a major buyout is coming regarding Cabela’s.
Several employees expressed concern about what the looming buyout means for the future. Management confirmed to employees that a competitor may buy out Cabela’s, according to an anonymous staff member.
The sources said the deal was finalized Nov. 9, and the formal take-over will be Jan. 1, 2016.
The source of the claim was purportedly a Cabela’s “staff member,” and from the description that person sounded like a retail level worker. The context in which that employee shared his purported knowledge with KULR wasn’t described in the article (which included a quote from the individual who leaked the claim):
“The manager had told her that her job was going to basically be overcome Jan 1. Several other people were commenting on it, and as I was leaving work another employee was talking to a department manager. So I stopped and caught the tail end of their conversation, so I approached him and said, ‘So this is true? We are being bought out and we are not going to have jobs?’ He said, ‘I don’t know whether they will keep anyone, I don’t know if the store will stay open or what their plans are.’ I said, ‘Well, is the January 1st deadline true?’ And he said, ‘Yes.'” the anonymous employee said.
KULR reported that “management was specifically instructed not to disclose the deal involving the potential buyout.” The claim proved popular on social media sites, particularly among hunting and fishing enthusiasts:
Bass Pro Shops potentially buying out Cabela’s can only mean one thing: $2 For quality trucker hats in Charleston #Redemption
— Josh (@Josh_Hudson9) November 12, 2015
— Matthew Coe (@mcoe9) November 12, 2015
Another article about Cabela’s. …love that store and very sad at the thought of the brand ceasing to exist. https://t.co/rmp2ojXU4e
— Andrea Dautrich (@AndreaDautrich) November 12, 2015
Nebraska station KNEB aggregated the original report, adding that the rumor had been reported solely by the Montana station:
There has been no comment from Bass Pro Shops, or Cabela’s. It’s important to note that no other media outlets in the country have reported on the alleged deal.
On 12 November 2015, business news channel CNBC reported that Bass Pro Shops was “exploring an offer” to acquire the Cabela’s brand but didn’t mention any extant agreements between the two companies:
Privately held outdoors retailer Bass Pro Shops is exploring an offer for Cabela’s, the U.S. hunting and fishing store chain targeted by activist investor Elliott Management, people familiar with the matter said.
Bass Pro is working with an investment bank on the potential offer, the people said this week. Cabela’s has recently begun to explore its options and has also reached out to private equity firms to solicit interest, the people added.
The sources asked not to be identified because the deliberations are confidential. Bass Pro Shops declined comment, while Cabela’s did not respond to a request for comment.
Neither Bass Pro Shops nor Cabela’s has acknowledged the rumors. An editor’s note appended to the KULR report noted:
Editor’s note: The headline has been changed to reflect that a potential Cabela’s buyout and store closure may happen Jan. 1, according to Cabela’s employees.