Huna Totem stays on fiscal course

Hoonah corporation has fifth year of profits in 1999

Posted: Friday, May 19, 2000

The management of Huna Totem, the Native corporation for the village of Hoonah, heads into Saturday's annual meeting with a stay-the-course strategy for its investment portfolio and real estate holdings, says president and CEO Peter Hocson.

``We don't have anything (new) on the horizon,'' Hocson said this week.

Meanwhile, a two-year-old political conflict was thrown into limbo by a recent court ruling.

As of Thursday afternoon, there was no competition for three seats on the board of directors. Chairman Albert Dick and director Ernest Jack are seeking re-election, and Ronald Williams is running for the seat held by Karl H. Greenewald, Jr. Proxies were due Thursday.

Huna Totem's annual report for 1999 shows $5.19 million in revenues for the corporation and subsidiaries, $2.48 million from investments and $2.09 million from lease income on real estate in Nevada.

That was down from $7.37 million in revenues in 1998, which was an atypical year because of $3.61 million realized from the sale of a mall in Washington state.

Huna Totem doesn't plan any major new investments in the coming year, although its Huna Heritage Foundation is planning a Tlingit museum on the ground floor of the corporation's building near the Juneau airport, Hocson said. Under that scenario, the foundation would become independent of the corporation, perhaps by 2002, he said.

1999 was the corporation's fifth straight year of profitability, Hocson said. During 1997-99, the average after-tax profit was $2.15 million.

In 1999, shareholders with 100 shares were paid $2,320 in dividends from the corporation and $2,180 from a settlement trust.

The corporation has about 1,150 shareholders, with about a third each living in Hoonah and Juneau, and others scattered throughout Alaska and the Lower 48.

Last year, the corporation's annual meeting was a scene of turmoil, as a group called Shareholders for Shareholders unsuccessfully attempted to recall five members of the board in protest of plans for a land swap with the U.S. Forest Service.

One of the dissident shareholders, Tilli Abbott, lost her seat on the board in the process. Alleging election fraud, the group then filed suit in Superior Court.

On May 2, Judge Patricia Collins ruled the case would be put on hold until the dissidents exhaust their administrative remedies with the state Department of Commerce, said Vince Usera, senior securities examiner for the department. A complaint was filed with the department last year, but was quickly withdrawn in favor of the court filing, he said.

``They're notorious for not giving much relief to dissident shareholders,'' said Anchorage attorney Richard Jameson, who represents Shareholders for Shareholders, explaining why his clients didn't wait for an administrative ruling.

Jameson said the group will file an administrative complaint soon and pursue its charges that Huna Totem made ``material misrepresentations'' regarding the land swap and board candidates in its proxy solicitation statements last year.

The department has the power to levy fines and invalidate proxies, although its decisions can be appealed in court.

Hocson said the controversial land swap, involving 1,900 acres near Hoonah, is still pending in Congress. Last year, dissidents didn't accept Hocson's guarantee that shareholders would have continued access to the land, which they said is culturally significant.

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