PierView mystery unfolds

The thread of ownership behind the purchase of PierView Cafe weaves together three men linked by various businesses.

Although not yet officially announced, it appears likely that Oracle CEO Larry Ellison was the person who purchased the PierView Café.

By Jonathan Friedman/Staff Writer

Although nobody is talking, a review of various documents has given some evidence as to who might have purchased the PierView Café. As reported exclusively in The Malibu Times last month, a company called Malibu Cantina LLC has applied for a liquor license at the PierView’s address. A source from the financial community said the person behind Malibu Cantina is Larry Ellison, CEO of the software company, Oracle. An Ellison and Oracle spokesperson declined to comment on whether he purchased the property.

However, further research shows Ellison has at least a direct connection to the person who purchased the PierView. According to California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley’s Web site, Philip B. Simon processed the filing papers for the creation of Malibu Cantina in October. Simon is president of Lawrence Investments, Inc., an investment firm owned by Ellison that specializes in technology-focused private equity investments. Ellison has used Lawrence Investments as a vehicle for several of his financial projects. Simon declined to comment on his involvement with Malibu Cantina and on anybody else who might be involved.

Simon is also on the board of several other companies, including some with Steven Fink, a person also rumored to be the main person behind Malibu Cantina. Fink, a Malibu resident who lives in Serra Retreat, is the principle of Knowledge Industries. Knowledge Industries is a parent company of numerous educational companies such as Leapfrog, which makes educational products for children and UNext, an online university program.

However, the connections do not end there. Ellison is also on the board of directors of Knowledge Industries. In addition, Ellison and Fink have been involved together on other investment projects. A spokesperson for Knowledge Industries did not return phone calls for this story.

The PierView closed its doors suddenly in November without having ever been publicly for sale. Owner Chuck Spencer said at the time he had simply received an offer that was too good to turn down. Employees were told only a week before the Nov. 9 closing that they would be losing their jobs. Spencer, however, declined to say who had purchased the restaurant, which had become a Malibu fixture during its 13 years of existence.

If Ellison is indeed the buyer of the PierView, this will be the second time in less than a year that he has made Malibu headlines for a real estate deal. Last year, Ellison purchased five beachfront residential properties on Carbon Beach for a total cost of $65 million. Forbes magazine estimates Ellison’s personal worth at $18 billion. That makes him the ninth richest person in the United States.