Larry Ellison, co-founder and CEO of Oracle Corporation has negotiated to purchase 98% of Lanai, one of Hawaii’s smallest island, from L.A. billionaire David Murdock. Murdock currently controls and owns Dole Food Company through the Hawaiian firm Castle & Cooke, which he bought in 1985. As a result of his purchase, he acquired ownership of Lanai back in 1985 as well, but has been looking to sell his share for some time. The 141-square-foot island is the smallest publicly accessible inhabited island of Hawaii, with roughly 3,200 residents, but is often frequented by vacationers, honeymooners, and other travelers. According to the Hawaii Tourism Authority, more than 26,000 people visited the island from January to April 2012, which is a 6% decline from the same period last year. Will the new ownership have an effect on future visits for tourists?
Although the selling price of Lanai has not been disclosed, local observers value the deal to be between $500 million and $600 million. Larry Ellison is known to be America’s third wealthiest citizen, with an estimated worth of $36.5 billion. Hawaii Governor, Neil Abercrombie states that “Ellison has had a longstanding interest in the island,” and that “We look forward to welcoming Mr. Ellison in the near future. His passion for nature, particularly the ocean is well known specifically in the realm of America’s Cup sailing.” With a background in real estate investments, Ellison has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on properties in Malibu, Lake Tahoe, Rancho Mirage, and other “trophy” locations.
Although many question the sale of Lanai, and what this means exactly for the island’s residents, Murdock states that “selling Lanai was not an impulsive decision” and that he has been seeking a buyer “who would have the right enthusiasm, commitment and respect for the island’s residents”. Although Ellison has not released to the public what he actually intends to do with the island, sellers say he plans “substantial investments that will create jobs and stimulate tourism to the island once owned in the 1920s by the founder of Dole Foods Co.”