Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Another shareholder takes tribal councils' investor to court

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A second shareholder has now sought relief from the courts from what it believes to be "oppressive or unfairly prejudicial" treatment from Tribal Councils Investment Group of Manitoba Ltd. (TCIG).

Keewatin Tribal Council (KTC) filed a notice of application under the Canada Business Corporations Act seeking details of the corporation's activities it says it has sought and been refused.

The northern tribal council joins Dakota Ojibway Tribal Council in taking TCIG to court seeking greater transparency and accountability a growing number of the TCIG's First Nation shareholders claim have been lacking from the investment firm.

TCIG is an investment corporation owned by Manitoba's seven tribal councils.

The latest legal action means two of TCIG's seven shareholders have now gone to the extent of taking court action to obtain relief.

In its notice of application, KTC claims it is "concerned that the business of the respondent (TCIG) has been carried out in a manner that unfairly disregards the interests of the applicant and other stakeholders."

The KTC action asks the court to direct TCIG to call an annual meeting of shareholders within a month of the court order.

KTC is also seeking to have its application heard by the court at the same time it hears DOTC's application.

TCIG has yet to file its response.

When DOTC filed its court action, TCIG said that breached confidentiality obligations, which triggered an "irrevocable option" whereby it could buy DOTC's shares back.

It remains to be seen if KTC's action will trigger the same action from the company.

Since it began in the early '90s, TCIG has built up a successful portfolio of operating companies and investments -- including the northern Pepsi distributor Arctic Beverages and the newly opened Winnipeg location of Famous Dave's BBQ -- and had a long track record of paying healthy dividends to its shareholders.

But documents obtained by the Free Press indicate its profits have declined and TCIG has suffered losses in the past two years. Shareholder concern about spending and increasing management costs has led to greater scrutiny of the corporation by its investors.

That has led to the legal actions from two of TCIG's tribal council shareholders who are seeking court orders demanding that management, led by longtime CEO Allan McLeod, produce documents detailing such things as financial statements, management contracts and corporate expenses.

martin.cash@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 13, 2012 B7

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