Oracle CEO Purchases Hawaiian Island
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com
The governor of Hawaii confirmed the sale of the island on Wednesday, but did not disclose how much Ellison paid for Lana’i.
The island includes two luxury resorts, two golf courses, two club houses, and 88,000 acres of land, according to the Public Utilities Commission document.
Ellison is number six on Forbes’ list of the world’s richest men, boasting a net worth of $36 billion.
Dorothy Lester, a pastor at Lana’i Union Church, told CNN that residents of the island have mixed feelings about the purchase.
“There are people who have been waiting for the time when there would be a new owner of the island,” she told the news agency. “There are those who are very anxious because David Murdock is the only person they remember who has been in control.”
CNN affiliate KHON reported Wednesday that the island has been on the decline economically, losing tens of millions of dollars a year.
“We need somebody with very deep pockets that understand this upfront that can continue these type of losses— at least for the first few years until we can find something to make the island valuable again,” the island’s state senator J. Kalani English told KHON.
Ellison bought 98 percent of the island, with the other percentage still being held on to by Murdock. He said he will retain a solar farm and a home on the island. His solar farm takes up about 20 square miles of the island.
“Lana’i has been my passion for years and I have made huge investments of money, time and energy for the betterment of the island economy and its residents,” Murdock told CNN affiliate KGMB.
Murdock said selling the island was not an impulsive decision, but that he has actually been looking for a buyer who had the right enthusiasm, commitment and respect for the land he loves.
According to the utilities application, Ellison plans to pay cash for the island, and the deal should result in new jobs, economic stimulus and a kick-start to the local tourism industry.
According to the Hawaii Tourism Authority, over 26,000 people visited the island from January to April of this year, which was a six percent decline from the same period a year before.
“The buyer anticipates making substantial investments in Lanai and is looking forward to partnering with the people of Lanai to chart the island’s future,” Castle & Cooke lawyers said in the application.
J. Kalani English, a state senator who represents Lanai in Hawaii’s Legislature, told USA Today that he hopes the sale to Ellison will help bring agriculture back to the island.
“I’m relieved because he’s one of the richest people on the planet, which means he knows he’ll lose a lot of money in the beginning and he can sustain that,” English told USA Today.
The island has nearly 50 miles of coastline, two resorts and zero traffic lights. Tourism sites say that its Four Seasons hotels can only be reached by vehicles with four-wheel drive. Most of the island is home to 3,200 residents, and it lies near Maui.