Dow Jones journalist Matt Jarzemsky broke the story earlier this week that PADI, the Professional Associaton of Diving Instructors, has been sold to a private consortium for $700 million.
Investment group Providence Equity Partners LLC, who currently own the PADI corporation, only acquired the company from the previous private-equity holders, Linconshire Management, in 2015 and put it up for sale – with an initial asking price of $1 billion – only a year later.
PADI, founded in 1966 by John Cronin and Ralph Eriksson, has been passed through a series of private investment groups after Cronin died in 2003. The new owners, operating under the company name Mandarinfish Holding, are reported to be ‘wealthy families and endowments’, including ‘philanthropists who were drawn to PADI’s efforts to promote oceanic conservation as well as its business’, according to the report, whose source also noted that the brightly coloured fish for which the company is named is a ‘favourite of some divers.’
No details of any forthcoming plans for the company have been released as yet, but recent years have seen a huge growth in the Chinese market for a certification agency that was already the largest in the world, with 6,400 dive centres and resorts, 133,000 individual dive professionals, and over 25 million certifications issued, according to the PADI website. The Dow Jones report suggests that Providence Equity tripled its investment with the sale of the company to its new owners.
Recent changes in business practices and membership fees have seen a number of dive centres and instructors cross over to PADI’s rivals, especially to Scuba Schools International (SSI) who hold a large market share in the Asia Pacific region. New investment may herald a drive to regain some of those losses.
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