Larry Ellison plans for Lanai to be lab of sustainability

Larry Ellison plans for Lanai to be lab of sustainability

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow)

For the first time since buying the island of Lanai, billionaire Larry Ellison spoke publicly about the sale and his plans to make the Pineapple Isle an eco-lab, of sorts - a laboratory for sustainability and businesses on small scale.

In an interview on CNBC's "Closing Bell" with Maria Bartiromo, the 67 year old goes into detail about what he envisions - without giving a specific timeframe for change.

"We know that you've made tons of headlines recently, buying an island in Hawaii on Lanai," says Bartiromo. Ellison answered, "I love Hawaii, and Lanai is a very interesting project. There, what we're going to do is turn Lanai into a model for sustainable enterprise."

The co-founder and CEO of computer tech giant, Oracle Corporation, bought the island in June from fellow billionaire, David Murdock - who'd owned it since 1985. Ellison now owns 98% of the island, its two resorts, golf course, plus the utilities.

"The electric utility is all going to be solar, photovoltaic and solar-thermal," explained Ellison. "We're going to convert sea water into fresh water. And then, have drip irrigation where we're going to have organic farms all over the island."

Ellison's hope is to export organic produce to Japan and elsewhere - and use electric cars in business ventures. He told Bartiromo, "We're going to support the local people and help them start these businesses."

Ellison purchased Lanai for an undisclosed amount. Hawaii News Now did some digging, though, and the island's tax-assessed value is listed at $500 million; although sources say he likely bought it at a deeply-discounted rate. Murdock was reportedly losing between $18 million and $25 million annually on the island. Ellison plans to bring new investment and tourism to Lanai to reinvigorate its economy.

County officials say he'll invest millions towards upgrading the utilities, infrastructure, and buildings - some of which have already started - and won't pursue a controversial wind farm. Last month, Forbes' listed Ellison as the third richest man in America - who just happens to have an eye-popping $4 billion (yes, with a "B"!) dollar credit line. Ellison adds with a laugh, "I've got a line-of-credit, just in case I go shopping and something catches my eye!"

Something like a Hawaiian island? You can do that when your net worth is $41 billion.

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