Former owner of Lanai offers $1.1B for Dole Food Company

Dole Food Company - Pineapple
Dole Food Company - Pineapple

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He made millions when he sold the island of Lanai. Now, David Murdock has plans to spend it and much more.

The owner of Castle & Cooke has put in a bid to buy Dole Food Company. It’s a deal that would give him ownership of the world’s largest fruit and vegetable producer.

The $1 billion takeover bid would include farm land in Wahiawa.

The prime real estate has a lot of potential, but residents are making it clear what they want to see done with it.

Wahiawa was once the Pineapple capital of the world. Now under Dole Food Company, Hawaii operations total about 25,000 acres and include not only pineapple, but coffee and cacao.

It all could soon be in the hands of Murdock.

“I’m surprised that he would want to get back into this, going from Lanai to selling off all that, and now coming to the central part of Oahu,” Wahiawa Neighborhood Board Vice Chair Dean Harvest said.

Murdock sold the island of Lanai last year in a mega-million-dollar deal to billionaire Larry Ellison. Now, Murdock — who is chairman and CEO of Dole Food Company — is offering to buy the business by scooping up the 60 percent of the company he does not already own, with a bid valued at $1.1 billion.

“My understanding is he owns Castle & Cooke outright, and Castle & Cooke is major shareholder of Dole, so now this would put it all under one umbrella,” said Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz (D) Wahiawa, Whitmore.

Sen. Dela Cruz sees lots of potential in that for future farmers.

“I see it as a positive because Castle & Cooke has already been supportive of the state’s effort of recreating an ag industry in Wahiawa with ADC,” Sen. Dela Cruz said.

“Has he given his intent? Will it remain ag? Is he going to redevelop it? Rezoning? What’s his intent? That’s what I’d like to see,” Harvest said.

Harvest has his concerns over what Murdock could do with the land.

“I can see putting up homes for those who work the land in the immediate area, but just to put up homes and sell? You’ve seen Wahiawa — one bridge in, one bridge out, you know,” Harvest said.

Dole’s board will meet in the next few days to review its options.

Murdock gave a deal deadline of July 31.

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