Sealaska tells shareholders it could lose up to $120 million

JUNEAU -- Sealaska will report losses of between $90 million and $120 million for last year, shareholders were told Feb. 23.

"It’s serious," said Ross Soboleff, Sealaska spokesman. "It’s going to take us some time to work out of this."

The exact amount of the loss won’t be known until the completion of an audit around the end of March, he said. The company will write off several businesses this year, instead of over the course of several years.

"We’re going to make a clean sweep this year," said Albert Kookesh, board president. "Our problem right now is cash flow."

Federal regulators cut red tape from hydroelectric power project for Angoon

JUNEAU -- Angoon is one step closer to weaning itself from expensive diesel-generated electricity.

A federal commission ruled that it doesn’t have jurisdiction over the proposed Angoon hydroelectric project, cutting a swath through the red tape that normally accompanies these projects, said Carlton Smith, president of Kootznoowoo Inc., the Native village corporation for Angoon.

McNeil succeeds Loescher as top executive

JUNEAU -- Sealaska appointed its in-house counsel, Chris McNeil Jr., president and chief executive at a board meeting Feb. 23.

McNeil, a Juneau-born Tlingit and Nisga’a Tsimshian, takes over after the departure of Robert Loescher at the end of January.

Sealaska needed to add stability as soon as possible, said Albert Kookesh, the board’s president. He and two others were serving as an interim chief executive.

Governors approve resolution supporting highway gas line

ANCHORAGE -- The nation’s governors approved a resolution Feb. 27 calling for construction of a pipeline linking North Slope natural gas fields to the Lower 48 following an Alaska Highway route into Canada.

"The vote was unanimous," said Claire Richardson, a spokeswoman for Gov. Tony Knowles, who pushed the proposal.

"Development of North America’s natural gas reserves in Alaska is important to the continued health and growth of the U.S. economy," according to the resolution passed by the National Governors Association.

GCI pays $10 million for 85% of pipeline-hugging fiber-optic line

General Communication Inc. plans to acquire an 85 percent interest in an Alaska fiber-optic cable system from WorldCom Inc. The system runs from Valdez to Prudhoe Bay via Fairbanks.

Three Alaska Native corporations -- Arctic Slope Regional Corp., Ahtna Inc. and Chugach Alaska Corp. -- which were original investors in the system, will each own a 5 percent stake.

The deal requires approval by the Regulatory Commission of Alaska, probably by late second quarter, said David Morris, GCI public affairs manager.

Alaska Airlines seeks National Airport slots

SEATTLE -- Alaska Airlines is considering service to Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C.

A takeoff and a landing slot at the airport could be vacated by St. Louis-based Trans World Airlines, which is seeking bankruptcy protection and is the target of an acquisition bid by American Airlines.

Airlines can’t apply for the slots until TWA goes out of business, and other carriers, including Continental Airlines and Delta Air Lines, reportedly also would like the service rights at Reagan National.

For Department of Fish and Game, only commercial fishing pays its own way

Commercial fishing once again comes up as the biggest moneymaker by far for the entire Alaska Department of Fish and Game. A new department report released last month shows that among sport and commercial fisheries and wildlife management activities, commercial fishing is the only segment that brings in more money than it costs the state.

According to state figures, commercial fishing revenues rebounded in fiscal 2000, with increased receipts from fish landings, salmon enhancement and salmon marketing taxes, and processors’ voluntary marketing assessments.

InvestNet lists its successes

Alaska InvestNet can’t release information on investment deals concluded through its efforts, unless the information is already public. But one success cited by Deborah Marshall, InvestNet’s director, is Sitka Beverage Corp., of Sitka. The company, a start-up, is setting up a bottled water plant in Sitka at the former Alaska Pulp Co. plant in the Southeast community.

Sitka Beverage found an investor through one of the investment conferences sponsored by InvestNet, Marshall said.

Once-controversial spill bill passes state Senate without debate

JUNEAU -- With no debate, the Senate on Feb. 22 passed a restored version of one of last year’s most contested bills -- a proposal to bring cruise ships and other large nontanker vessels under the state’s oil response laws.

Last year, a similar bill sponsored by then-Senate President Drue Pearce passed only after a power play by then-Rep. Ramona Barnes, an Anchorage Republican, forced the removal of its key provision -- that ships and the Alaska Railroad maintain contingency plans to clean up 15 percent of their oil-carrying capacity within 48 hours of a spill.

Murkowski measure would open ANWR

WASHINGTON -- Senate Republicans introduced an industry-friendly energy bill Feb. 26, calling the nation’s energy problems the greatest threat to economic growth. They promised action by summer.

The bill, already sharply criticized by many Democrats, calls for new tax and regulatory incentives for oil and natural gas production, including opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling.

Forest strikes oil at Redoubt test well

Forest Oil Corp. announced Feb. 20 successful logging and testing of Redoubt Unit No. 1, its first exploration well in the Redoubt Prospect in Alaska’s Cook Inlet.

The well, drilled to a depth of 15,323 feet, contained an oil-producing zone known as "net pay" of about 450 feet. It tested at a stabilized flow rate of 1,010 barrels of oil per day from the Hemlock formation. Using pressure data gathered during the flow test, the production rate for the well is estimated to be 2,500 b/d using artificial lift, Forest Oil officials said.

Kenai men take Chevy dealership wheel

JUNEAU -- A pair of Kenai men have bought Juneau’s Chevrolet dealership.

The Kenai businessmen bought the 13-year-old Lewis Motors from Harley Lewis and Chuck Wescott and changed its name to Capital Chevrolet.

Bob Favretto and managing partner Rob Skinner closed the deal Feb. 16 after about nine months of negotiations. The selling price was not disclosed.

Favretto owns the Kenai Chrysler Center where Skinner was sales manager.

Veneer plant files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

ANCHORAGE --Gateway Forest Products filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Feb. 26, several weeks after starting production.

The struggling Ketchikan company is seeking a $5 million loan from the Ketchikan Gateway Borough after having already received $7 million in government financing.

Gateway officials blamed the company’s problems on the expense of building a veneer plant, start-up costs and depressed lumber prices.

"We had a short-term liquidity problem," spokesman Cliff Skillings said.

ACS loses $25 million in 2000

Alaska Communications Systems reported a net loss of $25.2 million for 2000, compared to a combined operations loss of almost $18.8 million in 1999. The company also reported a fourth quarter net loss of nearly $8.5 million, compared to a $14.8 million loss for the same period in 1999.

Figures for 1999 are based on combining the data for operations ACS acquired in May 1999.

For the year ACS listed revenue totaling nearly $313 million, up from $299.9 million. Fourth quarter revenue totaled $79.2 million, down from $79.3 million in 1999.

Movers & Shakers March 4, 2001

Gov. Tony Knowles has appointed Ken Freeman as his special assistant for business and gas pipeline development. Freeman previously served as executive director of the Resource Development Council for Alaska Inc. and formerly worked as staff member for the Alaska Legislature. One of Freeman’s key responsibilities will be to track issues regarding development of a gas pipeline.

Bulletin Board March 4, 2001

In gear

Calendar March 4, 2001


The Anchorage Chamber of Commerce is planning a municipal election candidates forum for noon March 5 at the 4th Avenue Theater. Anchorage Assembly and Anchorage School Board candidates and incumbents will debate city and school district issues. For additional information, call 907-272-2401 or visit (

KeyBank economist sees small chance of recession; slow growth more likely

The U.S. economy probably won’t slip into a recession despite recent slowdowns, according to an economic consultant for KeyBank Alaska.

"We put the chances of a recession at one in four, but it will feel like a recession," said Jeff Thredgold, who publishes a quarterly economic newsletter for KeyBank Alaska and is president of Thredgold Economic Associates of Salt Lake City.

Thredgold expects the U.S. economy will post a first quarter growth rate of 1 percent, contrary to two consecutive quarters of negative growth required for a recession, he said.

Grocer seeks arbitration

Operators of six now closed Alaska Marketplace stores have filed for arbitration in Seattle against Safeway Inc., the former owner of the stores.

Seattle-based Associated Grocers Inc. and Northwest Retail Ventures LLC filed a demand for arbitration Feb. 8 with the American Arbitration Association, according to Robert Hoyt, Northwest Retail Ventures chairman.

"Arbitration is something we filed because we think there’s some things that need to be explained," he said.

This week in Alaska Business History

Editor’s note: "This Week in Alaska Business History" revisits events that shaped our past.

"Those who cannot

remember the past are

condemned to repeat it."

-- George Santayana, 1863-1952

20 years ago this week

Anchorage Times

March 6, 1981

Point MacKenzie land lottery gets go-ahead

Times staff and The Associated Press

An Anchorage Superior Court judge cleared the way for a lottery of 15,000 acres of farm land at Point MacKenzie, less than 24 hours before the first name was to be drawn.


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