Oracle's Larry Ellison buys his own $600 million island
LARRY Ellison, the billionaire chief executive of technology giant Oracle, has paid up to $600 million (€478 million) to buy a 141-square mile paradise island in the Pacific.
Lanai is the sixth largest island in the US state of Hawaii and is known as the "pineapple island" because it was once home to the world's largest plantation of the fruit.
Mr Ellison, 67, is the world's sixth richest man with an estimated fortune of $36 billion, according to Forbes magazine. It had been rumoured that his rival Bill Gates, currently the world's second richest man, might be interested in buying Lanai as he married his wife Melinda there in 1994.
Mr Ellison, a yachting enthusiast who won the America's Cup in 2010, bought the island from fellow billionaire David Murdock, 89, who has owned it since 1985 through his company Castle & Cooke.
Lanai has 3,200 permanent residents, 30 miles of paved roads, 400 miles of unpaved roads, and no traffic lights. There are 47 miles of coastline, two luxury hotels, two championship golf courses, more than 88,000 acres of land, a 600-acre residential development, parks and a solar power installation.
It is Hawaii's smallest publicly accessible inhabited island and 26,000 tourists visited in the first quarter of this year.
The sale price was not disclosed, but the asking price was between $500 million and $600 million.
Announcing the sale, which is expected to be completed in cash, Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie said: "It is my understanding that Mr Ellison has had a long-standing interest in Lanai. His passion for nature, particularly the ocean, is well known specifically in the realm of America's Cup sailing. We look forward to welcoming Mr Ellison in the near future."
Mr Murdock, who is worth $2.7 billion, said: "I believe that Larry Ellison will bring a new and fresh perspective to the island and its people. As a property owner on Lanai, I will continue to be a member of the community and will be looking forward to its future."
He maintained rights to build a controversial wind farm which would supply power to the island of Oahu using an undersea cable.
Lanai was once owned by the Dole Food Company, which bought it in 1922. Mr Murdock later closed its pineapple operations to concentrate of tourism.
Mr Ellison will own 98 per cent of the island. The other two per cent is owned by the state and private residents.
J Kalani English, a state senator who represents Lanai, said he was hopeful the sale would mean a return of agriculture to the island.
He said: "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."