HONOLULU — It was announced Wednesday that landowner Castle & Cooke, which owns approximately 98 percent of the island of Lanai, has filed a transfer application with the Public Utilities Commission.
The buyer is Lawrence Ellison, co-founder and CEO of Oracle Corporation. Billionaire David Murdock, owner of Castle & Cooke, said he will keep his home on Lanai and retain the rights to a controversial wind farm he plans to build on the northwestern part of the island.
Upon learning of the sale, State Sen. J. Kalani English offered the following remarks:
“First and foremost, I would like to express my appreciation to Mr. Murdock for his efforts in sustaining the island over these past two decades. His compassion and commitment (for) the community of Lanai have not gone unnoticed.
“Over the past year, the uncertainty of the potential sale has left many on the island and in the state concerned about its impact on residents. With this stated, I am pleased to hear of the sale between Castle & Cooke and Lawrence Ellison.
“I look forward to new ownership under Lawrence Ellison and I am interested in learning more about his vision. I also look forward to the transition in owners and to a healthy and vibrant Lanai community once again.”
English currently represents Lanai under Senatorial District 6, which also includes Hana, East and Upcountry Maui, Molokai and Kahoolawe. He also represented Lanai as a councilman from 1997 to 2000.
Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa released the following statement:
“First of all, I would just like to say how it has been an honor and a privilege to work with Mr. Murdock. His compassion for the people of Lanai is to be admired and we wish him well in his future endeavors.
“In terms of the new buyer, we can only say that we look forward to meeting Mr. Ellison and hope that by working together with him and the state … we may be able to do good things for Lanai and its people.”
The County of Maui owns 195.98 acres in Lanai with an assessed value of $7,939,700 and leases 21.43 acres from Castle & Cooke with an assessed value of $7,848,000. The total area of the island is 141 square miles.
Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie released the following statement:
“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. 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.”
Lanai is Hawaii’s smallest inhabited island. Once owned by James Dole, it was known as the “Pineapple Isle” until production was moved overseas.