The 13 Regional Corporations.
Low oil prices, oil corporation mergers and a volatile stock market sent Alaska's Native corporations on an economic roller coaster in 1999. Although some lost ground, all of the corporations came through with profits and broader, more stable foundations on which to base future growth. Together, the regional corporations accounted for more than $1.97 billion in revenues in 1999, much of which are reinvested in Alaska-based programs or as dividends.
Created by Congress in 1971 to settle aboriginal land claims that were threatening to derail the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, 12 Alaska Native Regional corporations divided 44 million acres of land and nearly $1 billion to seed their business operations. The 13th Regional Corp., which does not have a land base, is based in Seattle and was established for Alaska Natives living outside the state.
Arctic Slope Regional Corp.
The largest corporation in terms of revenue, Arctic Slope Regional Corp., based in Barrow, was buffeted as oil prices dived below $10 a barrel before surging past $25 a barrel in the space of the calendar year. In addition, the merger of two of the North Slope's largest oil companies--BP Amoco's buyout of ARCO--pinched the oil field services industries, one of Arctic Slope's top subsidiary branches.
ASRC posted net revenues of $865.62 million in 1999, down from $868.68 million in 1998, while net income was significantly lower in 1999 at $15.54 million, compared with $28.41 million in 1998.
Operating income declined and net income fell, as did the corporation's investment portfolio, which saw earnings decline from 10.5 percent in 1998 to just 8.9 percent in 1999.
"Providing leadership and bringing clarity to such situations has been a real challenge in 1999," ASRC President and CEO Jacob Adams said in the corporation's annual report.
Fairbanks-based Doyon Ltd. also was hit hard by the slowdown on the North Slope. Doyon Drilling Inc., long one of Doyon's most profitable subsidiaries, was forced to lay off 72 percent of its workers as rig utilization fell to 33 percent from 97 percent in 1998.
Doyon's investment portfolio, its largest revenue-producer, rose 30 percent. Doyon also increased its stake in the tourism industry and real estate market, both of which gained revenue. Total revenue was $49.45 million, down from $66.35 million in 1998.
But the biggest shock came in early 2000. The corporation had just completed the transfer of the office of president and CEO to Rosemarie Maher in January 2000, and was preparing to celebrate the completion of its new office building in downtown Fairbanks, when outgoing President and CEO Morris Thompson, along with his wife and daughter, were killed in the crash of Alaska Airlines Flight 261. Thompson left the corporation on a strong footing, however, and Doyon expects to make further gains in the new century.
Cook Inlet Regional Inc.
Anchorage-based Cook Inlet Regional Inc. continued to strengthen and diversify in 1999. Its businesses include real estate, construction services and equipment distribution, telecommunications, tourism, natural resources and a strong investment portfolio.
This diversification is behind CIRI's continued financial health and growth, according to president and CEO Carl Mans. CIRI posted net income of $57.4 million on revenues of $297 million in 1999, a 14 percent increase over 1998. Shareholder dividends also increased by 14 percent.
In the long-term, CIRI is investing in Personal Communications Services and a variety of tourism outlets. Personal Communications Services provides digital wireless telephone services, and through the venture, GIRL is partnered with two of the industry leaders, a strategy Marrs follows when investing in new areas.
CIRI also supports a wide range of nonprofit organizations. Among these, The CIRI Foundation provided more than 400 educational grants and scholarships in 1999. Alaska's People, a job placement and referral nonprofit organization, placed more than 1,400 Alaska Natives in jobs in 1999.
Juneau-based Sealaska is continuing its efforts to diversify its traditional forest products base into precision plastics businesses, mining and investments. In 1999, Sealaska showed total revenues of $176 million, down 7 percent from 1998 revenues. Its investment portfolio suffered in 1999, dropping 27 percent from 1998 due to poor performances in the bond market and asset allocation. Earnings also dropped to $10 million from $12 million in 1998 and $28 million in 1997. Sealaska is the third largest revenue producer of the 13 Alaska Regional Native corporations.
Most of its revenues stem from Sealaska's diversified investment portfolio, although natural resources in the form of timber and calcium carbonate form the core of its Alaska operations. Sealaska also paid $8.1 million in 7(i) and 7(j) natural resources revenue sharing in 1999. Since its inception, Sealaska has paid $229 million under the ANCSA revenue sharing provision. Through the Sealaska Heritage Foundation, Sealaska awarded 557 scholarships and heritage study grants worth a combined $1.1 million in 1999.
Chugach Alaska Corp.
Glennallen-based Chugach Alaska Corp. is starting the new century with a clean slate and an optimistic out look. In June 2000, the Alaska Native corporation, encompassing the Prince William Sound area, made the final payment to clear it of obligations coming from a 1992 bankruptcy filing.
And with more than $200 million in government contracts annually, Chugach Alaska is able to focus on cultural and educational programs for shareholders, as well as expanded business operations. The corporation posted total revenues of $135.15 million in 1999, with net income of $5.47 million, both increases over 1998.
"Everything is kind of coming together," says Chairman of the Board Sheri Buretta. "We're just extremely optimistic about the future. We're resilient and we're really proud of what we've accomplished."
Chugach Alaska's woes started in the recession of the late 1980s, and intensified with the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, which heavily impacted its lands. Eleven years later, Buretta notes that Exxon has not paid any settlement money to the corporation. But, Chugach Alaska isn't planning to let another corporation dictate its future.
The corporation is taking advantage of a Small Business Administration program that gives disadvantaged minority-owned businesses a priority for government contracts. Chugach Alaska has landed a number of service contracts under the SBA 8(a) clause, including a $50 million contract with MacDill Air Force Base outside Tampa, Fla. Under the contracts, Chugach Alaska provides a range of services from lawn maintenance to engineering and construction.
NANA Regional Corp.
NANA Regional Corp. is expanding its footprint outside Alaska. In 1999, the Kotzebue-based corporation bought a controlling interested in Redman, Wash.-based DOWL, known for its civil engineering work. Despite low oil prices, NANA earned $5.2 million on $135.12 million in revenues in 1999, the largest one-year growth in NANA's history, compared to $65 million in revenues in 1998. NANA also acquired a controlling interest in NANA Management Services, completed its third hotel in Anchorage and saw its investment portfolio grow to $61 million.
The surge is due primarily to its diversification strategy, according to President Charlie Curtis and Chairman Donald Sheldon. "Never before has our destination been so clear, and our footsteps so sure," Curtis and Sheldon said in a letter to NANA shareholders.
Bristol Bay Native Corp.
Bristol Bay Native Corp. also saw strong growth in 1999, according to Chief Financial Officer Stephen Tolten. Revenues of $132.39 million came from three primary sectors: Bristol Bay's investment portfolio, petroleum services and environmental services, Tolten says.
The fortunes of Koniag Inc. rose with the stock market in 1999. Eighty percent of the Kodiak-based corporation's assets are invested in publicly traded securities such as Intel, Microsoft and Lucent Technologies. Koniag's investments gained 20 percent. Overall net income for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1999 was $14.4 million, compared to a net income of $8.4 million in 1998.
Recent large-scale sales of land and timber, as well as depressed markets in Asia, have substantially reduced the company's focus on timber and natural resources as a primary source of income. In November 1998, Afognak Joint Venture completed negotiations to sell approximately 41,000 acres of land and timber to the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council. AJV's partners are expected to dissolve the venture. In January 1999, Koniag distributed $23 million from a 1995 Afognak land sale to shareholders.
Other Koniag operating companies include International Concepts and Research Corp., a SBA 8(a) business that provides government support and technical assistance. ICRC saw its revenues double over 1998. Koniag had mixed results with its holdings in two companies that design rail systems.
Calista Corp., which serves most of Southwest Alaska, moved into new headquarters in South Anchorage in 1999. Construction of the headquarters and a major expansion of its rental warehouse facility boosted Calista's total assets to $28 million. The corporation increased revenues to $10.9 million over $10.4 million in 1998, with a net income of $1.14 million.
Calista operates a chain of rural newspapers, Alaska Newspapers Inc., and in 1999 acquired a Web press and sheet-fed printing company. Alaska Newspapers and Yulista Management Services Inc. are looking at business opportunities under their 8(a) SBA designation. WAVE Wholesale and WAVE Fuels and Transportation are wholesale networks that are helping lower grocery and fuel prices in the Bush by using the collective buying power of the region to lower prices.
Glennallen-based Ahtna Inc. nearly doubled its revenues in 1999 to $66.48 million from $36.43 million in 1998, largely on the strength of its investment portfolio and service and construction contracts. Revenues from construction subsidiaries Northern Building Supplies, Ahtna Enterprises Corp. and Ahtna Government Services Corp. brought in more than $13 million in 1999, a huge jump from that sector's $1.1 million revenues in 1998.
The Aleut Corp.
The Aleut Corp. showed a sharp decline in fiscal year 1999, $433,000 in net profits, compared with $4.22 million in 1998. (Revenue for 1999 was $69.1 million, down from $73 million in 1998.) The change was anticipated, largely due to increased investments toward the start-up of TAC Services Inc. and Aleut Enterprise Corp.; Space Mark's graduation from its protected status under the SBA 8(a) clause; and activities related to the acquisition of Adak Island, which is the largest business development undertaken by the corporation. Two startup ventures on the island, a fuel farm and residential and portside leases, have already proved profitable.
Bering Straits Native Corp.
Bering Straits Native Corp., based in Nome, earned a profit for its 10th consecutive year, although it is still heavily dependent on 7(i) resource revenues from the other regional corporations. Of $7.97 million in consolidated operating revenues in the fiscal year ending March 31, 1999, $1.23 million came from 7(i) funds. The corporation is focusing on its real estate holdings in Valdez, Unalaldeet and Nome, where it completed a 23-unit hotel in 1999. Despite depressed gold prices, exploration of prospects in the BSNC region continue.
The 13th Regional Corp.
The 13th Regional Corp. showed a profit in 1999 and paid its first dividend since 1989. "It was a milestone for us," said Suzy Villegas, director of shareholder relations. Revenue for 1999 was $2.4 million, compared to $1.6 million in 1998. Key industries are office buildings, land developments, construction and managed investment properties. Investment revenue totaled $921,463 and contract construction revenue totaled $500,029, both up from 1998 totals.