CIRI could reap windfall in proposed telecom takeover

Posted: Sunday, July 30, 2000

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- A bid by German telecom giant Deutsche Telekom to buy an American wireless phone company could bring a billion-dollar windfall to Cook Inlet Region Inc.

The Anchorage-based Native regional corporation is heavily invested in VoiceStream Wireless Corp., the target of the $50 billion proposed corporate takeover.

CIRI, which is heavily invested in VoiceStream, would see its stake in the company grow to as much as $1.6 billion if the deal gets approved by the federal government, CIRI president and chief executive Carl Marrs said Friday.

''It's a gigantic deal,'' Marrs said.

VoiceStream, with 2.3 million customers nationwide, is the eighth largest wireless carrier in the United States. It appeals to the German company because it's the only wireless carrier offering nationwide GSM technology, widely used in Europe and Asia.

CIRI entered the rapidly developing telecom industry by buying into VoiceStream about three years ago. It now has more than $100 million invested in VoiceStream joint ventures, which provide service to customers in Chicago, Dallas, Phoenix, Tulsa, Detroit, Miami and other cities.

Within the next month, CIRI expects to convert its partnership interests in VoiceStream into 8.1 million shares of VoiceStream, Marrs said. If the acquisition is approved, each VoiceStream share would be swapped for 3.2 shares of Deutsche Telekom plus $30.

The CIRI board of directors would decide over time whether to reinvest its gains or distribute some to shareholders in addition to regular dividends, or both, Marrs said.

CIRI expects to stay in the burgeoning telecommunications industry, but it's also looking at new acquisitions in real estate and tourism, Marrs said.

''There are a myriad of opportunities when you have that kind of capital,'' he said.

Besides VoiceStream, CIRI has investments in commercial real estate, construction services, resorts, day cruises and mineral exploration.

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