It's official: The sale of most of Lanai and its assets to billionaire Larry Ellison was successfully completed, seller Castle & Cooke Inc. announced Thursday.
"It is very gratifying to me personally to see Lanai now in the hands of Larry Ellison, a very committed individual who will bring his ideas and energy to sustain the beauty and heritage of Lanai," former owner
David Murdock said in a statement. "I extend my sincerest thanks to the many employees, their families, business associates, state and county leaders and administrators who have supported my efforts and changes on Lanai."
The sale included more than 88,000 acres of land on Lanai, or about 98 percent of the island, home to about 3,000 residents.
It also included Lanai's two luxury resorts managed by Four Seasons, two championship golf courses, residential and commercial buildings, and other assets.
The sale price has not been disclosed, but Maui County officials say Castle & Cooke's land holdings on Lanai have an assessed value of more than $325 million. The two resort properties have an additional combined assessed value of $95 million. The market values of the properties are likely much higher.
Forbes says Ellison, the 67-year-old co-founder and CEO of California-based Oracle Corp., is worth an estimated $36 billion, making him the third-richest American.
Calls and emails to Ellison were not immediately returned.
State regulators Monday gave interim approval to transfer ownership of the island's water, sewer and transportation utilities to Ellison. The state Public Utilities Commission said that it will continue an investigation before issuing a final decision.
Two environmental and community groups - Life of the Land and Lana'ians for Sensible Growth - have filed motions to intervene in the transfer of ownership request.
Local politicians say they look forward to working with Ellison.
"The island of Lanai holds a very special and vital role in our state's cultural, environmental and economic ecosystem," state Sen. J. Kalani English, whose district includes Lanai, said in a statement. "I am excited to work with the new ownership to help build a better and more prosperous Lanai."
Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa added: "We've had initial discussions with Mr. Ellison's representatives. . . . We think he will be a positive influence on Lanai, and we will work with him to achieve a better future."
Murdock, 89, owned the island since 1985. He shifted the island's economy from one dependent on agriculture and pineapple production to one dependent on tourism.
"My time on Lanai, known as the pineapple island, has been enjoyable and inspiring," Murdock said in a statement. "I have devoted 28 years in shepherding Lanai's transformation into a world-class tropical paradise. . . . I am keeping my private home on the island and taking pleasure with other Lanai residents in the warm breezes of the trade winds."
Murdock has retained the rights to develop a proposed wind farm on the remote northwestern part of the island - a controversial project that has divided the close-knit island community.
* Nanea Kalani can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.