New Sealaska CEO Anthony Mallott says part of the Juneau-based regional Native corporation’s strategy for reversing recent losses will be to do business closer to home.
“Very likely within six months you’ll see significant investments by Sealaska in Southeast, or within industries that are heavily represented in Southeast Alaska,” Mallott told the Juneau Chamber of Commerce on Thursday.
He said Sealaska wants to provide economic opportunities and jobs for its nearly 22,000 shareholders. Most live in Southeast and the Pacific Northwest.
The corporation has sold some of its business interests in areas like Florida, Mexico and Alabama. Mallott says it now has a $100 million investment fund and a $65 million fund for acquisitions.
“So what we’ve done to transition is to load up effectively dry powder,” he said. “And bring on some people that know how to do mergers and acquisitions, and know what we want to look like as a corporation five, 10 years from now, and start making those acquisitions.”
While jobs for shareholders will be important, Mallott says the number one priority will be to invest in profitable enterprises. In 2013, Sealaska businesses lost about $57 million. That shrunk to $35 million due to revenue from investments and natural resource earnings shared by all Native corporations.
Mallott believes Congress is poised to pass legislation completing Sealaska’s land entitlement under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. The long-awaited measure would transfer up to 80,000 acres of the Tongass National Forest to the corporation, providing a boon to Sealaska’s timber businesses.
“It’s been a long wait,” Mallott said. “We’re patient, we know that it’s owed to us and we’ll get there. But it is having some significant effects on our timber harvest and potentially the timber industry in Southeast.”
Mallott took over as CEO at Sealaska’s annual meeting in June. He’d previously served as treasurer and chief investment officer. He replaced longtime CEO Chris McNeil Jr., who retired. Mallott is the son of Democratic gubernatorial candidate and former Sealaska board member Byron Mallott.