Oracle boss buys Hawaiian island

Posted by Emma Woollacott

With an asking price of over $500 million, there were never going to be many potential purchasers for the Hawaiian island of Lana'i. But Larry Ellison, co-founder and CEO of Oracle, has now snapped it up - or almost all of it, at least.

Once known as Pineapple Island, over the last few years it's traded plantations for tourists, and now hosts two luxury resorts. Ellison is believed to have bought about 98 percent of the 141-square-mile island from billionaire David Murdock, who's owned it since 1985.

"It is my understanding that Mr Ellison has had a long standing interest in Lana'i," says Hawaiian govenor Neil Abercrombie in a statement.

"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."

The sale price hasn't been revealed, but is unlikely to have presented much of a problem for Ellison, who's believed to be the third richest US citizen, worth around $36 billion, according to Forbes' Billionaires List.

A lot rides on the sale for the island's 3,200 residents. Murdock's company, Castle & Cooke, is probably its biggest employer, managing the island's water utility as well as hotels and golf courses.

But, according to Maui News, it's been losing as much as $40 million a year, and a proposed wind farm development that Murdock hoped would restore his fortunes was opposed by local residents. Murdock is keeping a base on the island, and says he still hopes to go ahead with the project.

Ellison's known for making unusual purchases, having once bought a tennis tournament to keep it in the US. It's not known what he plans to do with Lana'i, although as a keen sailor its 50 miles of coastline will be of interest.