PADI changes hands to privateequity group Mandarinfish
DIVE-CERTIFICATION company PADI Worldwide Corp. has changed hands for $700 million, according to Dow Jones, its owner Providence Equity Partners opting to sell out to a group of wealthy families and endowments. PADI President and CEO Drew Richardson confirmed the sale to “a conglomerate of family wealth investors” that is “run similar to foundations and endowments,” although the company has not revealed their identity or the sale price. Providence Equity tripled its investment, according to The Wall Street Journal, citing a letter to investors. It put California-based PADI up for sale for $1 billion in November 2016 and sold out for 70% of that to a purpose-built entity, Mandarinfish Holding. It’s the fourth straight private-equity owner of the dive-course company. Providence bought the organization from Lincolnshire Management in 2015, which in turn had acquired it in 2012 from Seidler Equity Partners. PADI was started in the Chicago suburbs in 1966 over a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black Label whiskey shared by scuba-equipment salesman John Cronin and his friend Ralph Erickson, a swimming and diving instructor. They wanted to standardize training in the nascent industry. After pioneering certification requirements for recreational divers, the Professional Association of Diving Instructors has since issued more than 24 million diver certifications, averaging 900,000 per year. Around two-thirds of divers are male, although the balance is shifting slightly towards women. Asia, in particular China, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, have been fertile nations for growth.