Providence Equity Partners have agreed to sell PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) to a group of wealthy families for more than $700 million, reports the Dow Jones Newswires.
The consortium includes philanthropists who were drawn to PADI’s efforts to promote marine conservation – such as its Project Aware initiative – as well as its business. They purchased PADI through Mandarinfish Holding, called after the brightly-coloured fish which is a favourite of many divers.
PADI is the world’s largest diving training organisation, having issued more than 25 million certifications, according to its website. Scuba equipment salesman John Cronin and swimming and diving instructor Ralph Erickson founded it from their homes in Illinois in 1966, offering membership and course training materials to dive shops and resorts. It became the most popular certification agency as it offered people the opportunity to become qualified SCUBA divers in a few days rather than the weeks or months it took with other agencies.
Providence bought PADI from private-equity firm Lincolnshire Management in 2015 and helped it expand in China and upgrade its e-commerce system. Although it initially wanted $1 billion for PADI, it still tripled its investment on the sale, reported The Wall Street Journal.