HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Larry Ellison, the co-founder and chief executive officer of Oracle Corporation, is buying Lanai one of Hawaii's main eight islands. Ellison is the third wealthiest American citizen with an estimated worth of $36.5 billion.
Current landowner Castle & Cooke filed a transfer application with the Public Utilities Commission.
Billionaire David Murdock is selling the island after owning 97 percent of it since 1985. He's reportedly losing between $18 to 25 million each year on the island.
"For more than a quarter of a century, I have been the major owner of the private island of Lana'i and have enjoyed being a part of the island community as it progressed through numerous social and economic changes," said Murdock. "Lanai 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. I built my island home there and will continue to remain a homeowner of Lana'i."
In addition to his home on Lanai, Murdock will retain the rights to develop a potential wind farm on the remote northwestern part of Lanai.
Governor Neil Abercrombie released the following statement on Wednesday:
"It is my understanding that Mr. Ellison has had a long standing interest in Lana'i. His passion for nature, particularly the ocean is well known specifically in the realm of America's Cup sailing. He is also a businessman whose record of community involvement in medical research and education causes is equally notable.
"We look forward to welcoming Mr. Ellison in the near future."
"We're pretty high on rumors and pretty low on facts here," said Dorothy Lester, Co-Pastor, Lanai Union Church. "There are a mixture of feelings among people who are here. There are people who have been waiting for the time when there would be a new owner of the island. There are those who are very anxious because David Murdock is the only person they remember who has been in control."
The island had about 3,500 people last census but now State Senator Kalani English, Maui, Lanai, Molokai, Kahoolawe, says the population is down to about 1,900.
"First and foremost I would like to express my appreciation to Mr. Murdock for his efforts in sustaining the island over these past two decades. His compassion and commitment the community of Lanai have not gone unnoticed," said Senator English. "I look forward to new ownership under Lawrence Ellison and I am interested in learning more about his vision. I also look forward to the transition in owners and to a healthy and vibrant Lana'i community once again."
According to documents, filed with the PUC on Tuesday, Ellison would purchase the island's two resort hotels (the Four Seasons Resorts Lanai at Manele Bay and the Four Seasons Resorts Lanai, Lodge at Koele) two championship golf courses and club houses (The Experience at Koele and The Challenge at Manele) and more than 88,000 acres of land.
The 88,000 acres include the Koele Project District (600 acres of residential development), the Manele Project District (800 acres of residential development), Lanai City properties (248 acres of various commercial and residential assets), Koele Stables, Lanai Pines Sporting Clays, CCI's interest in La Ola Solar Farm that sells power to Maui Electric Company.
According to documents, "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."
The sale price is estimated to be around $600 million.
Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa today released the following statement:
"First of all I would just like to say how it has been an honor and a privilege to work with Mr. Murdock. His compassion for the people of Lana`i is to be admired and we wish him well in his future endeavors," said Mayor Arakawa.
"In terms of the new buyer we can only say that we look forward to meeting Mr. Ellison and hope that by working together with him and the state that we may be able to do good things for Lana`i and its people."
The County of Maui owns 195.98 acres in Lanai with the assessed value of $7,939,700 and leases 21.43 acres from Castle & Cooke with the assessed value of $7,848,000.