Oracle's Ellison closes deal to buy Hawaii's Lanai

Oracle CEO Ellison closes on deal to buy 98 percent of land in Hawaiian island of Lanai

Associated Press
Oracle's Ellison closes deal to buy Hawaii's Lanai
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In this Oct. 5, 2011 photo, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison speaks during the Oracle OpenWorld Keynote in San Francisco. The 3,200 people living on a rural Hawaiian island that will soon be purchased by Ellison have a laundry list of what they'd like to see him provide. Working-class residents on Lanai want stable jobs. Affordable housing. No onerous restrictions on hunting or fishing. A return to agriculture. Improved transportation to Maui, Oahu and other islands given an airport with limited flights. Even simple things like the reopening of the community pool. They hope he's willing to sit down, listen to their concerns and be sensitive to the unique culture of Hawaii. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

HONOLULU (AP) -- Oracle Corp. CEO Larry Ellison has closed on his deal to buy most of the Hawaiian island of Lanai, the island's seller said Thursday.

Billionaire David Murdock's Castle & Cooke Inc. said the deal has been completed for about 88,000 acres on the island near Maui. The land makes up 98 percent of the island's 141 square miles.

"It is very gratifying to me personally to see Lanai now in the hands of Larry Ellison, a very committed individual who will bring his ideas and energy to sustain the beauty and heritage of Lanai," Murdock said in a statement. Murdock said his 28 years on the island have been "inspiring."

A sale price for the land was not disclosed and the firm declined to give details. The Maui News previously reported Castle & Cooke was asking for $500 million to $600 million for the rural island. The land includes two resorts, two golf courses, assorted commercial and residential buildings, and plenty of open space.

According to Maui County records, the 301 parcels have an assessed value of $325 million, including improvements. The total market value is likely much higher. The largest parcel, for example, comprising 86,000 acres, has a total assessed value of $13.6 million but a market value of $100.8 million.

The deal also includes control of the island's major economic driver, tourism, which sustains the vast majority of the roughly 3,200 residents who live there.

Ellison, whom Forbes ranks as the world's sixth-richest man with $36 billion as of March, has not spoken publicly about his plans for the island. Local lawmakers who have talked to the billionaire's representatives say he has indicated he plans no major disruptions and to keep resort and other employees in place. He did not immediately return a message from The Associated Press seeking comment through Oracle, the Redwood City, Calif.-based software company.

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie said Thursday that he thought Ellison would have the best interest of the people of Lanai in mind as he operates.

"Come on, this is Hawaii, let's show a little aloha," Abercrombie said. "Let's have an open heart and open mind."

The closing comes the same week state officials approved the transfer of three utilities on the island to Ellison. The state Public Utilities Commission then asked Castle & Cooke's lawyers for confirmation the deal went through.

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Oskar Garcia can be reached on Twitter at http://twitter.com/oskargarcia .

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