Oracle's Ellison Denies Home Purchase Report - InformationWeek

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6/2/2011
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Oracle's Ellison Denies Home Purchase Report

Newspapers had reported that the CEO would pay $40 million for the house next door, whose trees are blocking his view of the San Francisco Bay.

For a company that's always selling, it was a rare moment for chairman and CEO Larry Ellison to say, "No sale."

Oracle public relations issued a statement Thursday saying its CEO was not buying the house next to his Pacific Heights mansion in San Francisco. "All of the newspaper stories reporting that I am buying the house next door to my San Francisco home for $40 million are untrue," Ellison said, according to the statement.

Wednesday, the San Francisco Chronicle published a story, picked up elsewhere, that Ellison was going to use $40 million to buy out neighbors, who had purchased their home for $6.9 million in 2004. It was an outsized tale.

Granted, three redwoods and an 80-year-old Acacia on the neighbor's property are growing into his view of the San Francisco Bay. Ellison purchased his five-bedroom, 10,000 square-foot home in 1988 for $3.9 million. If the trees continue growing, they may block his view of the America's Cup yachting event that the Oracle/BMW racing team will bring to San Francisco next year. They won the America's Cup in 2010.

The trees were a big enough issue for Ellison to file suit in state court claiming "irreparable injury" and loss of views and natural light if the trees weren't cut down, as reported by the Wall Street Journal, a case still pending. Even so, no offer of $40 million has been made.

Even by San Francisco's inflated standards, $40 million might drive Ellison's accountant back to the books to prove he was exceeding the limits of what is prudent. Ellison and his accountant have been through that drill before.

"No one has ever offered to sell me the house next door for $40 million or any other price," Ellison said in the statement. Lest there be any doubt, he also issued a General Sherman ("If elected, I will not serve...") statement: "If someone does offer to sell me the house next door for $40 million or an amount anywhere near $40 million, I will not buy it."

The neighbors, Bernard and Jane Von Bothmer, reported once coming home and finding a crew in their trees, preparing to cut branches. Ellison said they weren't working for him.

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