PADI changes hands to pri­va­tee­quity group Man­dar­in­fish

Action Asia - - DIVE NEWS FROM AROUND ASIA -

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.

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