Cabela’s sale to Bass Pro Shops advances

WHEELING — Ohio County Commissioner Randy Wharton said he is uncertain as to just what the sale of Cabela’s to Bass Pro Shops will mean for the Cabela’s store at the Highlands, but one thing of which he’s fairly certain is that the store will remain in operation.

The $5 billion sale of Cabela’s to Bass Pro moved forward Monday after Synovus Financial Corp. entered the deal to purchase Cabela’s banking assets. The sale had been held up by regulatory concerns over Capital One’s purchase of those banking assets, and it appeared an October closing between Cabela’s and Bass Pro would not be met.

Initially, Capital One was to purchase Cabela’s credit card portfolio and its $1.2 billion in banking deposits, but Capital One ran into issues with its internal regulator. Bass Pro is purchasing Cabela’s retail operations.

Under the new plan, Synovus will purchase the banking assets, Cabela’s announced Monday. The banking end of Cabela’s business is known as the “World’s Foremost Bank” — a subsidiary created to issue Cabela’s credit cards.

Once the sale to Bass Pro is complete, Synovus then will sell the bank’s credit card assets and related liabilities to Capital One. Synovus will retain the bank’s deposits.

Synovus will make $75 million for helping broker the deal, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

The funding will come primarily from Cabela’s shareholders, who now will receive $61.50 per share under a sale to Bass Pro instead of the initial share price agreement of $65.50.

Cabela’s expects the sale to Bass Pro to close in the third quarter of this year.

Wharton said the county has yet to hear anything official on the deal to Bass Pro outside of media reports.

However, if a sale to Bass Pro is completed, he believes the store’s location along Interstate 70 between Pittsburgh and Columbus — the Highlands’ Cabela’s store has been one of the retailer’s top performers, and serves as one of its signature outdoor retail locations — would be a perfect entry point for Bass Pro into this region.

Bass Pro also would take ownership of Cabela’s current distribution center at the Highlands, making the location even more desirable, Wharton believes.

Wharton did note that agreements made by the state of West Virginia with Cabela’s — 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.

A call to the West Virginia Development Office, which brokered the Cabela’s deal in 2003, was not immediately returned Tuesday.

“We’re excited to announce this agreement, which allows us to look ahead with greater certainty toward the completion of our merger with Bass Pro Shops and offers a positive step forward for all parties,” Tommy Millner, Cabela’s CEO, said in a statement.

“We look forward to completing these transactions for the benefit of our shareholders, outfitters and outdoor enthusiasts.”

The sale will need approval by Cabela’s shareholders.