CIRI expects big 2000 profits

Posted: Thursday, March 15, 2001

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Cook Inlet Region Inc. expects profit for 2000 to exceed $100 million, the largest ever posted by an Alaska Native corporation.

Buoyed by a strong investment in wireless telecommunications and buttressed by real estate and construction ventures, the Anchorage-based Native corporation said its revenue grew to about $380 million, up from $297 million in 1999.

''This is by far the largest year of growth in the company's history,'' said Carl Marrs, president and chief executive. ''We have had extraordinary success with our telecommunications partnerships and were able to capitalize on them.''

The company made headlines in December when it paid out $314 million in special dividends -- $50,000 for a typical shareholder -- a few days after Christmas, based on a windfall from telecom investments. It was the largest single dividend ever paid by a regional Alaska Native corporation.

Steve Colt, a University of Alaska Anchorage economist who has studied Native corporations, said one other Native company earned almost $100 million in 1994 but none have come close to the figure since.

CIRI reported a profit of $57.4 million in 1999. Marrs said the figures for last year should be finalized in a few weeks, but he's confident profits will exceed $100 million.

CIRI's 2000 profits also stem from the sale of its stake in BellSouth Carolinas PCS, a telecommunications partnership in North and South Carolina. The company has not disclosed how much it made from the venture.

The company expects to remain on a strong growth path, Marrs said, and it recently appointed Terry Simpson as board chairman, replacing Robert Woodhead, to further that goal. Simpson was head of the board's finance and investment committee and his appointment demonstrates the company's commitment to further investment growth, Marrs said.

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