Employer retirement plans: more Alaska business owners selling their companies for retirement.

Author:Barbour, Tracy

More Alaska business owners are selling their companies as part of their retirement planning, mirroring a trend that's taking place nationwide. Business experts in Alaska say the trend is being fueled, in large part, by aging baby boomers who are preparing for their "golden" years.

Alaska's baby boomers are starting to downsize as they move into the next phase of their lives. In the process, it's only logical that they step away from the businesses they began decades ago, says Bob Poe, a term assistant professor with University of Alaska Anchorage's College of Business and Public Policy and previous president and CEO of the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation.

Many boomers came to Alaska to build their future. Now it's thirty something years later, and they're spinning off their enterprises to the next generation of Alaskans--folks who were born and raised in the state. It's a great opportunity to acquire an established Alaska business. But relationships run deep when it comes to doing business in Alaska, Poe says. In many cases, retiring owners are selling to their partners, managers, and key employees, as well as to third parties.

Increasingly, Alaska Native corporations are becoming more active in the purchase of existing enterprises. For instance, Nana Regional Corporation, Koniag, Inc., and Calista Corporation have acquired a number of successful Alaska businesses, which, in turn, is having a positive impact on Alaska as a whole.

"The real success of Alaska and Alaska Native Corporations is the next generation that we grew here," Poe says. "Native corporations are educating them [shareholders] through scholarships ... Not only are the boomers selling a company, but there's somebody on the other side buying it that has a real view for the future."

Resource Businesses and Dental Practices Transferring Ownership

Businesses with longevity beyond the individual owners are the ones that are most often being sold by retiring owners. In Alaska, that typically equates to oil and gas, engineering, and resource and extraction businesses. "That's where I see Alaska Native corporations buying businesses," Poe says. "They used to focus more on government contracting, but now they're trying to diversify."

Such diversification makes sense, given the nature of Alaska and Alaska Native corporations. "We're a resource extraction state, and they own millions of acres of land," Poe says.

TerriLee Bartlett, ChFC, a wealth advisor with Wells Fargo Private Bank's Anchorage office, has also noticed that more Alaskans are selling their business as part of their retirement planning. "We see quite a bit of that, normally coming from the construction and oil service-related companies," she says.

Baby boomers in their...

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