Billionaire Larry Ellison Buys Hawaii's Island of Lanai

Billionaire Larry Ellison Buys Hawaii's Island of Lanai

» Featured Columnists | By Scott Kauffman | June 22, 2012 9:30 AM ET

San Francisco Bay area billionaire Larry Ellison has been known to vacation on Hawaii's island of Lanai.

Now, the Oracle Corp., founder and CEO practically owns the lovely isle.

Ellison, who founded Oracle in 1977 and grew the software company into a fortune that made him worth reported $36 billion, agreed to buy 98 percent of Lanai from current owner Castle & Cooke Inc. Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie confirmed the deal June 20th.

The sale price for the property, which comprises the vast majority of the island's 141 square miles, was not immediately clear but the Maui News previously reported the asking price was between $500 million and $600 million. 

As part of the deal, Castle & Cooke owner and fellow billionaire David Murdock is selling two luxurious Four Seasons resort hotels (Koele Lodge and Manele Bay), two championship golf courses, and more than 88,000 acres of land, according to documents filed with the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission.

The Associated Press reported Castle & Cooke filed a transfer application with the state's public utilities commission, which regulates utilities on the island that serve its two resorts.

Murdock, who developed and owns several other world-class golf course communities on the mainland U.S., including Saddle Creek in California and Keene's Pointe in Orlando,  said he would keep his home on Lanai and the right to build a wind farm. The wind farm is a controversial project that would place windmills on as many as 20 square miles of the island and deliver power to Oahu through an undersea cable.

Nearly 10 years ago, Murdock gained control of publicly traded Dole Food Company as part of a $2.5 billion stock purchase deal that gave Murdock control of the $4 billion company and the island of Lanai (Murdock's family previously owned approximately 24 percent of Dole prior to the takeover and subsequently took Dole Food Company private). Dole Food Company, which previously blanketed Lanai with pineapple foods, is the world's largest producer and marketer of high-quality fresh fruit, fresh vegetables and fresh-cut flowers, and markets a growing line of packaged goods.

Lanai is Hawaii's smallest publicly accessible inhabited island, and is publicly known as the "Pineapple Island" because of its Dole pineapple roots. The majority of the island was once owned by James Dole of Dole Food Company Inc., who bought it in 1922.

Lanai has approximately 3,200 residents and boasts unspoiled charm with 30 miles of paved roads, 400 miles of unpaved roads and no traffic lights. After taking over Dole Food Company, Murdock closed its pineapple operations to make way for luxury resort and home development.

Lanai is simply the latest real estate catch for Ellison, who is famously known for his America's Cup sailing pursuits. According to a Wall Street Journal article last year, Ellison was named "one of the nation's most voracious consumers of trophy real estate" after spending hundreds of millions of dollars on various properties over the years, including a 249-acre estate in Rancho Mirage, several beachfront properties in Malibu and a historic garden property in Kyoto, Japan.

Santa Clara County Calif. Market Heats Up

In other Bay Area-related news, it appears to be a great time for Santa Clara County realtors.

California's largest and oldest realtor organization recently reported the local housing market continues to show signs of a rising tide with more closed sales and shorter days-on-the market listings compared with a year ago.

In May, the average price for a single family home in this swanky Northern California county stood at $832,078, a 7.54 percent increase from the $773,722 last May, according to data compiled by MLSListings. The average price of a condo stood at $410,778, a 12 percent jump from the $366,773 of May 2011.

From May 2011 to May 2012, the number of days a single family home stayed on the market before being sold shrank from 66 to 53, and it decreased from 82 to 55 for condos. At the same time, the number of closed sales went up from 967 to 1,215 for single family homes and from 379 to 418 for condos.

Inventory was still low, but slightly more new listings came on the market than in the previous months. Sellers listed 1,498 single family homes and 482 condos for sale in May, 227 and 71 more than in April.

"The slight increase in the number of new listings is a hopeful sign," said Barbara Lymberis, president of the Santa Clara County Association of Realtors. "With record low interest rates and a bit more inventory, buyers who have gotten pretty beat up in the last few months may have a small breathing space over the summer to prevail."

SCCAOR, established in 1896, is California's oldest and Northern California's largest real estate association representing about 10,000 realtors.

Real Estate Listings Showcase

This website uses cookies to improve user experience. By using our website you consent in accordance with our Cookie Policy. Read More