Cook Inlet Region Inc. shareholders receiving checks

Posted: Friday, August 01, 2003

ANCHORAGE (AP) Shareholders of Cook Inlet Region Inc. will again be receiving hefty checks.

A majority of the Anchorage-based Native corporation's 15-member board voted Thursday to give the typical shareholder $5,000 each on Aug. 22.

The special dividend will cost the company about $31 million, chief executive Carl Marrs said.

The board also approved a regular quarterly dividend to be paid on Sept. 30. Average shareholders with 100 shares will receive $700 each, the company said.

''We've paid out over $800 million since inception. Between $500 million and $600 million of that was in the last three years,'' said Marrs, who manages Alaska's most profitable Native corporation.

In addition to regular quarterly dividends, most CIRI shareholders received two checks totaling $65,000 after the company pulled off a lucrative telecom deal in 2000.

The vote Thursday on the special dividend was forced by shareholders, who at the company's annual meeting June 7 demanded a $10,000 payout per person. The roughly 7,200 shareholders overwhelmingly passed an advisory vote telling the company to hand over the money.

Most of the company's leaders had opposed the special dividend, saying it amounted to a partial liquidation of CIRI's assets and that it would hamstring the firm's ability to make future investments. They unsuccessfully urged shareholders not to ask for it.

Board member Harold Rudolph said he pushed for the $10,000 per person payout Thursday but the majority would not agree to the full amount.

Marrs said the board evaluated the company's financial position and felt there was enough excess cash to pay $50 a share, or $5,000 for most shareholders.

''We really don't have the cash available to do $10,000'' per person, he told the Anchorage Daily News.

All but three of CIRI's board members approved the special dividend.

CIRI has investments in resorts, a casino, oil and gas, construction, real estate and tourism. Last year, the company reported a $36.6 million profit on revenue of $95 million.

The firm's best year ever was 2001, when it turned $854 million in revenue and a profit of $432 million. Since then, CIRI has cashed out most of its telecom stock, the wireless industry has contracted and the company has been hunting for its next investment.

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