Oracle chief Larry Ellison buys Hawaiian island

Larry Ellison, Redwood City, California 6 June 2012 Larry Ellison is one of the richest businessmen in the world

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The billionaire boss of technology giant Oracle is to buy 98% of the Hawaiian island of Lanai, Hawaii's governor says.

Larry Ellison's successful bid is unknown, but the asking price was said to be between $500m (£318m) and $600m.

The the 141 sq mile (365 sq km) island is owned by billionaire David Murdock.

Known as "Pineapple Island", Hawaii's smallest publicly accessible island is home to 3,200 residents and now boasts several luxury resorts.

It was previously famous for its pineapple plantations but has seen tourism take over as its key business in recent decades.

Mr Murdock has owned Lanai since 1985 through private company Castle & Cooke.

Compassion sought

Confiming the successful bid, Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie said on Wednesday: "It is my understanding that Mr Ellison has had a long standing interest in Lanai.

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"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."

A co-founder of Oracle, one of Silicon Valley's traditional tech giants, Mr Ellison is listed sixth on Forbes' list of global billionaires, with a net worth estimated at $36bn.

Castle & Cooke is the island's primary employer and owns the hotels, golf courses, water utilities and other businesses on Lanai. But it is losing as much as $40m each year on its projects there, the company has said.

The mayor of Lanai has described Mr Murdock as a caring landowner. Before Mr Ellison's involvement became known, he said he hoped any new proprietor would be considerate to the island's residents.

"I'm hoping that whoever buys the island will have as much compassion for the residents there as David Murdock. I'm hoping they will be conscientious owners," Alan Arakawa told Maui News on Tuesday.

The remaining 2% of the Lanai is not owned by Castle & Cooke.

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