Hawaii Gov.: Oracle's Ellison to buy most of Lanai
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 (365 square kilometers) — 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.
Attempts to reach a representative for Ellison through Redwood City, California-based Oracle were not successful after business hours there Wednesday.
Ellison co-founded the business software company in 1977. Forbes ranks him as the world's sixth-richest person, with a net worth of $36 billion as of March.
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.
Murdock bought out fellow Castle & Cooke shareholders for nearly $700 million in 2000 and took the company private.
Lanai is Hawaii's smallest publicly accessible inhabited island, with some 3,200 residents. It is known as the "pineapple island" even though Murdock closed its pineapple operations to make way for luxury resort and home development.
The island boasts unspoiled charm with 30 miles (48 kilometers) of paved roads, 400 miles (644 kilometers) of unpaved roads and no traffic lights. Other people own the 2 percent of the island's 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.