Ellison identified as Malibu Racquet Club buyer

Larry Ellison

Rumors that tennis legend John McEnroe is involved with plans for the club are also confirmed.

By Jonathan Friedman / Assistant Editor

Oracle Corp. CEO Larry Ellison was the buyer last month of Malibu Racquet Club, a source familiar with the transaction told The Malibu Times this week. The source said Ellison is planning to work with tennis legend John McEnroe to develop a state-of the-art youth tennis school similar to the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Florida, which has been responsible for developing many tennis superstars over the years.

A call to McEnroe’s agent, Gary Swain, was not immediately returned. The Times also contacted Oracle, and was twice transferred to a disconnected line. In the past, Ellison’s spokespersons have told The Malibu Times that they will not comment on his personal purchases.

Malibu Racquet Club manager Erik Blackmore said this week when contacted by The Times that he still did not know who purchased the facility.

“And even if I did, I couldn’t tell you,” Blackmore said.

Calabasas resident Jerry Seymour sold Malibu Racquet Club last month after 31 years of ownership and 33 years of association with the club. When asked then about who purchased the property, Seymour declined to comment, but said, “The new ownership has a love for tennis and links to Malibu.”

Rumors of an Ellison/McEnroe alliance have been swirling around Malibu, and a story even made the gossip section of the New York Post this week suggesting that Ellison would be turning his recently purchased Casa Malibu Inn into a tennis-training facility with help from McEnroe. The story quoted McEnroe’s father/attorney John McEnroe Sr. as saying there are “preliminary discussions,” but did not expand upon that.

Inn manager Richard Page, who has stayed with the hotel since the previous ownership, was not available for comment this week. But he told The Malibu Times earlier this year when Ellison bought the hotel for $20 million, “We are continuing as usual. We have a long-term lease that is being honored.”

Ellison purchased the Malibu Racquet Club through a newly created company called Malibu Racquet Club LLC. According to California Secretary of State Debra Bowen’s Web site, Philip B. Simon processed the filing papers for the creation of the company in July. Among his various positions, 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, including the purchase of Malibu’s PierView CafĂ© in 2003.

A call was made to Simon’s office at the accounting firm of Howson & Simon in Walnut Creek. His secretary said Simon would not comment for this story.

Sixty-year-old Ellison, whose net worth is estimated at nearly $19 billion, has amassed a number of local properties since beginning a shopping spree four years ago.

In addition to the PierView, Casa Malibu Inn and Malibu Racquet Club, he also owns the old Windsail restaurant property, which sits next to PierView. He also reportedly has at least nine other local properties with a combined value placed at upward of $180 million.

The software CEO is said to have purchased five contiguous lots on Carbon Beach for $65 million, including a 1,600-square -foot cottage for $15 million. His landside properties include music producer David Foster’s former estate in Serra Retreat. According to published reports, Ellison shelled out $20 million for the 22-acre villa, which boasts nine bedrooms, 11 bathrooms, a pool, a spa and three recording studios.

Reporter Kim Devore contributed to this story.