Now we know why Larry Ellison needs $4 billion in loans and credit.
The Oracle CEO revealed the mystery behind the $4.2 billion worth of stock that he pledged as collateral for loans and credit lines, in an exclusive interview today with Maria Bartiromo on "Closing Bell."
He doesn’t owe $4 billion, he said. He doesn’t even owe $1 billion. The stock was for a multi-billion-dollar credit line that he could use if he “went shopping.”
“I’ve got a line of credit just in case I go shopping and something catches my eye,” he said.
What could catch his eye that could cost billions?
“Well, if I wanted to buy the Los Angeles Lakers,” he said. “I could go buy the Los Angeles Lakers.”
He conceded that the Lakers aren’t for sale. He said buying the team “is a very expensive way to get floor seats.” But the Lakers “are my favorite team.”
Perhaps Ellison is building his financial powder for a possible bid for Anschutz Entertainment Group, which owns stakes in the Lakers and the Los Angeles Kings as well as several other arenas and teams. The Anschutz company recently announced it was exploring a sale of Anschutz Entertainment Group.
Ellison also revealed the reason that he’s buying so many mansions, islands and waterfront properties. When asked how many homes he currently owns, he said “Um, let’s see, homes that I live in? Or um…”
Without answering the question, Ellison went on to say that he buys homes he doesn’t live in in order to turn them into museums. He’s turning the old Astor mansion in Newport, Rhode Island into a museum for 19th century European art. He’s turning one of homes into a museum for modern art, another into one for French Impressionism and his home in Japan into a museum for Japanese art.
“My favorite museums are things like the Frick Museum in New York or the Huntington Hartford in Pasadena, where it’s someone’s home and you can see the art in a very comfortable setting, on a much smaller and human scale.”
He said he also buys homes because he likes to improve them.
“When I was a kid, the first thing I wanted to be was an architect,” he said. “So I love building houses and remodeling homes, designing them.”
As for Lanai, the sixth largest island in Hawaii that Ellison bought for $500 million, Ellison said he has even grander plans. He said he plans to turn the island into a model for sustainable development, with solar electricity, electric cars, water filtration systems and organic farms that will export produce to Asia and other countries.
“It’s going to be a little laboratory for sustainability and businesses on a small scale,” he said.
-By CNBC's Robert Frank
Follow Robert Frank on Twitter: @robtfrank