Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Arctic Beverages to get new owners

Bought by native investment firms

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Arctic Beverages has been acquired by a consortium of mostly Saskatchewan First Nations investment firms.

The Winnipeg-based Pepsi-product distributor, whose territory includes a large part of Northern Canada, filed for creditor protection last month. It was forced to take that action largely because of the fallout of drawn-out management challenges at its parent company, Tribal Councils Investment Group.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed and must still receive court approval. A hearing is scheduled for Monday.

'We are all very excited. We intend to demonstrate to the marketplace that Arctic is back... '

-- Sean Post, chief executive of Arctic Beverages

The group that's buying Arctic Beverages includes two Saskatchewan First Nations investment firms -- Athabasca Basin Development, owned by the seven communities in northern Saskatchewan's Athabasca Basin, and Prince Albert First Nation Business Development Limited Partnership, representing 12 First Nations in northern Saskatchewan.

The third member of the consortium is Paskwayak Business Development, the commercial holding company owned by the Opaskwayak Cree Nation located near The Pas.

While it may be new ownership, the deal will mark a return to Arctic Beverages of the original management team that was in place when it was first owned by TCIG in the early '90s.

Marv Tiller, the founding CEO of TCIG, will be the chairman of the board of the new company that will own Arctic. Sean Post, who was the general manager of Arctic in the early days of its TCIG ownership, will be the CEO.

"We are all very excited," Post said. "We intend to demonstrate to the marketplace that Arctic is back and we have indicated to Pepsi that our intention is to grow the market shares."

It was during Post's time the company expanded its territory to include more than 20 per cent of Canada, diversified its product line and received multiple awards from Pepsi.

The new owners have a combined book value of more than $100 million and total revenue among the three groups of about $200 million.

Post said the plan is to retain all current employees.

Pepsi Canada had been very supportive of Arctic's aboriginal ownership in the past, but was becoming increasingly impatient with Arctic's recent history of late payments.

But the company has come out immediately in support of the new owners.

Richard Glover, president of PepsiCo Beverages Canada, said in a statement, "Arctic Beverages has always held a proud position as Canada's only First Nations-owned Pepsi franchise and we're very pleased that they'll continue to build on this rich legacy."

martin.cash@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 9, 2014 B5

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