In historic vote, Calista shareholders choose to enroll afterborns

Thousands of so-called afterborns will be eligible for shares of Calista Corporation after shareholders voted Saturday. The preliminary results from the annual meeting in Kasigluk dramatically reshapes the ownership of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta’s regional Alaska Native Corporation.

Calista is the regional Native corporation for much of Western Alaska. (Image courtesy of Calista Corp.)
Calista is the regional Native corporation for much of Western Alaska. (Image courtesy of Calista Corp.)

It extends the shareholder base beyond people born before a cutoff date of December 18th 1971. Prior to passage of the binding resolution, younger people could only receive shares through inheritance or gifting.

The company estimates that the number of shareholders could initially increase from 13,000 to between 38,000 and 43,000. With a tripling of shares, each individual shareholder would, on average, receive one-third of the value of shareholder dividends relative to the company prior to expansion. Last year’s dividend averaged $380 dollars.

The company takes on additional administrative overhead with the growth. Establishing a quorum also becomes more complicated. While more than 60% of shareholders live in the YK Delta region, that figure could drop to 55% with the descendant enrollment.

The corporation in a Saturday news release did not indicate the breakdown of votes for descendant enrollment. The certified tally will available in the next few days. Just fewer than 58% of the company’s shares voted this year, many through online proxy votes.

Calista says they will spend the next 18-24 months developing a plan for enrollment. The actual enrollment would begin between January and June of 2017. One-hundred Class C shares are issued to descendants of original shareholders, while Class D shares will be created for Alaska Natives who did not receive original shares in 1971 with the passage of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.

Board Chair Willie Kasayulie in a statement said the company has for years heard from shareholders about their interest in enrolling descendants.

“With this binding vote, Calista’s shareholder base will grow tremendously, and we directors and the administration will step up to meet the increased challenges,” said Kasayulie.

Calista joins other Alaska Native corporations like the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation, Doyon, and Sealaska that have issued shares to descendants.