The Hawaiian government has let slip that there is indeed a deal in the works to sell Lanai Island – and the billionaire prospective buyer is no stranger to unusual purchases.
On Wednesday, the Governor of Hawaii broke exciting news for those following the sale of a 98% share in Lanai Island, the sixth-largest island in the state – there was a deal close to being made, and the buyer was none other than high-tech entrepreneur Larry Ellison. The huge island, a former pineapple plantation under the Dole Fruit Company, had been ailing in recent years and according to media reports the current owner, 89-year-old billionaire David Murdock, chose to sell it rather than undertake the large revitalization needed to make Lanai a going concern.
Oracle head Ellison has no such qualms, however – the ownership company of Lanai, Castle & Cooke, has suggested that the buyer intends to make massive capital improvements to the island’s resort industry, and provide more jobs for its 3,000 residents.
The island, located near Maui, currently has two Four Seasons resorts, several Jack Nicklaus golf courses, and a boutique historic hotel, among many other amenities. Left in a pure and natural state, the island has no traffic lights and dirt roads, with plenty of wilderness and almost 50 miles of beautiful coastline.
While Governor Neil Abercrombie did not mention a sale price for the island, local media reports have been referencing an estimate of US $500-$600 million for the rare 36,400-hectare island. With an estimated net-worth of $36.5 billion making him the third-richest American citizen, Ellison would have little problem with that sales price, and even intends to pay for the island in cash, according to Business Weekly. Despite his tech background, Ellison has made other high-profile tourism-related purchases, including a tennis tournament and extensive investments in sailing events.
It’s this love of nature that may make him the perfect person to turn Lanai around – and Governor Abercrombie seems to approve. “We look forward to welcoming Mr. Ellison in the near future,” he said. “His passion for nature, particularly the ocean, is well known specifically in the realm of America’s Cup sailing.”
Lanai residents quoted in a Bloomberg article also sound optimistic about Ellison’s ability to make the job-creating investments in the island – and his willingness to work with the locals to bring about positive changes. If all goes well, Ellison’s ownership could be a turning point for the island, and a win-win situation for him and the inhabitants both.
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