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Oracle's Ellison agrees to buy most of Hawaiian island of Lanai

Published June 21, 2012 10:29 am

Deal • Valued at hundreds of millions, the transaction may boost the island's economy.
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Oracle Corp. CEO Larry Ellison has agreed to buy 98 percent of the Hawaiian island of Lanai, according to the state's governor.

"It is my understanding that Mr. Ellison has had a long-standing interest in Lanai," Gov. Neil Abercrombie said in a statement. "His passion for nature, particularly the ocean, is well known specifically in the realm of America's Cup sailing."

Lanai, Hawaii's sixth-largest island with an area of 141 square miles, is currently owned by billionaire David Murdock's Castle & Cooke Inc.

The sale includes two resort hotels, two championship golf courses and clubhouses, more than 88,000 acres of land including a 600-acre residential development, a solar farm, parks and utilities, according to an application filed by Castle & Cooke with Hawaii's Public Utilities Commission requesting interim approval for the sale by Tuesday so it can close the transaction the following day.

The transaction is valued in the "hundreds of millions of dollars," according to the application to the commission.

Ellison is the world's sixth-richest man, with an estimated net worth of $36.4 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Deborah Hellinger, an Oracle spokeswoman, didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. Castle & Cooke Hawaii Inc. President Harry Saunders didn't immediately respond to a phone message left at his office.

The sale creates "an extraordinary opportunity for the people and island of Lanai to bring in new investment to the island of Lanai that should result in the creation of new jobs, provide local economic stimulus and reinvigorate the local tourism industry," the application said.

The state Public Utilities Commission must approve the transfer of three utilities that are part of the sale, said Sean Mikell, a researcher for the commission.

The transfer requires consent from two of the three commissioners. The panel will look at "whether the transfer is reasonable and consistent with the public interest," Mikell said. Two of the three commissioners were appointed by Abercrombie, while the term of the third expires at the end of June and will be replaced by an Abercrombie appointee.