The Professional Association of Diving Instructors, better known as PADI, is the world’s largest diver certification agency, and it has been sold – again – this time for $700 million, to a consortium of wealthy families and investors calling themselves Mandarinfish Holdings.
PADI, which last year celebrated its 50th anniversary after being founded in 1966 by John Cronin and Ralph Eriksson, has been passed through a series of private investment groups after Cronin died in 2003, Mandarinfish Holdings now being the latest.
The last change of ownership happened back in 2015, when private-equity form Lincolnshire Management sold PADI to another private-equity business, Providence Equity Partners LLC. Just a year later, it was back on the market with a $1 billion price tag, but at the same time, Providence Equity Partners helped the agency experience huge growth in the Chinese market, as well as upgrade its e-commerce system.
Mandarinfish Holding were reportedly drawn to PADI’s efforts to promote ocean conservation as well as the core business itself, and time will tell what the future holds for the market leader, which has increasingly come under pressure from rivals in recent years.