This week, the Calista Corporation begins touring the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta to educate shareholders about the impacts of enrolling more people. Next year shareholders will decide whether to enroll descendants. Increasing the number of owners would impact governance of the company and the size of shareholder dividends.
People born after December 18th 1971, when the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act created the Alaska Native Corporations were not enrolled as shareholders, creating a split between the original shareholders, and the so-called afterborns. The Calista Corporation, the company made of shareholders from 56 Y-K Delta Villages is gearing up to inform voters about the consequences of enrolling those born in the 40 years since ANCSA.
Thom Leonard is Calista’s Communication Manager. He says the company has been talking with corporations which have enrolled descendants, like Sealaska and Doyon.
“So for the past year or so we’ve been having meetings with them, talking with them, emailing back and forth trying to get as much information as possible as to what the impacts might be, what things went smoothly, what things did not, and even some unanticipated consequences of enrolling descendants,” said Leonard.
The company has about 12,900 shareholders today, of which 9,200 are original shareholders. The only way to receive shares now is by inheritance or through a gift within a family. If Calista issues shares to descendants in 2017, Calista estimates the number of shareholders could triple.
“Calista Corporation is neutral on this, we’re not advocating one way or another. The decision will be up to shareholders at the 2015 annual meeting,” said Leonard.
If passed by a majority vote, Calista would create two new share classes.
“Class C shareholders would be the descendants that are enrolled, they would each get 100 shares, Class D shareholders would be the people who could have enrolled back in 1971, but did not, for one reason or another,” said Leonard.
Calista issued a record dividend last year of 3 dollars and 50 cents per share, a total of 4.65 million dollars. Leonard says increasing the number of shareholders changes each shareholder’s stake in the company, and that would mean a reduction in dividend size.
“If the number of shareholders doubles, then that would reduce theper-share dividend by 50-precent. If the number of shareholders triple, it would be one-third per share of the dividend,” said Leonard.
Calista is planning on visiting 20 communities in the coming months to talk with shareholders about the process and the upcoming vote. The tour kicks off Wednesday in Tununak and comes to Bethel November 12th. A website, Calistavote.com will be another source of information.