Buying Hawaii

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Larry Ellison is the co-founder and chief executive officer of Oracle Corporation, one of the world’s leading enterprise software companies. As of 2012, he is the third wealthiest American citizen, with an estimated worth of $36.5 billion. Ellison, who is already known for his extravagance, will soon own another exotic trophy – a Hawaiian island. He had agreed to buy 98% of the island of Lanai from David Murdock, a Los Angeles billionaire who controls Dole Food Co. and many other businesses under Castle & Cooke Inc.

Lanai, the sixth-largest Hawaiian island at 141 square miles, was once a pineapple plantation and is still sparsely inhabited. According to documents filed with Hawaii’s Public Utilities Commission, the purchase will include two resort hotel and two golf courses with clubhouses.

The sale price has not been disclosed, but local observers value the deal at more than $500 million. That’s a large real estate transaction by any standard, though not earth-shattering in the realm of trades among wealthy investors.

Ellison has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on trophy properties in Malibu, Lake Tahoe, Rancho Mirage, and other locations where real estate prices are consistently high. His former yacht “Rising Sun” reportedly cost more than $200 million to build and at a length of 254 feet is too big to dock at most of the world’s marinas.

He plans to pay cash for the island, and the deal should result in new jobs, economic stimulus, and a reinvigorated local tourism industry. Ellison anticipates making substantial investments in Lanai and is looking forward to partnering with the people of Lanai to chart the island’s future.

Murdock said that selling Lanai was not an impulsive decision and that he has been looking for a buyer who would have the right enthusiasm, commitment, and respect for the island’s residents. He believes that Ellison will bring a new and fresh perspective to the island and its people.

The Hawaiian governor, Neil Abercrombie, also said that Ellison has had a long-standing interest in the island. His passion for nature, particularly the ocean, is well known, and he looks forward to welcoming him in the near future.

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