Larry Ellison, inset, and the Sweetheart Rock as seen from Manele Bay Resort golf clubhouse on Lanai, Hawaii (CBS/AP/Wikimedia Commons)
(CBS/AP) HONOLULU – Oracle Corp. CEO Larry Ellison has reached a deal to buy 98 percent of the island of Lanai from its current owner, Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie said Wednesday.
The land’s owner, Castle & Cooke Inc., has filed a transfer application with the state’s public utilities commission, Abercrombie said.
The sale price for the property — the vast majority of the island’s 141 square miles — was not immediately clear. The Maui News previously reported the asking price was between $500 million and $600 million.
Representatives for Castle & Cooke, owned by self-made billionaire David Murdock, did not immediately return a call seeking comment from The Associated Press.
Abercrombie said Ellison has had a longstanding interest in the island.
“We look forward to welcoming Mr. Ellison in the near future,” Abercrombie said. “His passion for nature, particularly the ocean is well known specifically in the realm of America’s Cup sailing,” he said.
Abercrombie and Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa met with Castle & Cook last week to go over the prospective deal between the company and Ellison, whose software company is based in Redwood City, Calif.
Murdock bought out fellow Castle & Cooke shareholders for nearly $700 million in 2000 and took the company private.
The major Hawaiian islands, with Lanai highlighted
(Credit: AP Photo)
Lanai had about 3,500 people recorded in the last census, but now State Senator Kalani English, Maui, Lanai, Molokai, Kahoolawe, says the population is down to about 1,900, reports CBS affiliate KGMBin Honolulu.
“It is a major trophy for billionaires to say I own one of the eight major Hawaiian Islands,” English told KGMB.
Lanai is Hawaii’s smallest publicly accessible inhabited island. It is known as the “pineapple island” even though Murdock has closed its pineapple operations to make way for luxury resort and home development.
The island boasts unspoiled charm with 30 miles of paved roads, 400 miles of unpaved roads and no traffic lights. Other people own the 2 percent of the land that Ellison isn’t buying.
According to the Hawaii Tourism Authority, more than 26,000 people visited the island from January to April of this year, a 6 percent decline from the same period last year.
Niihau is Hawaii’s smallest inhabited island, but permission is required to visit.