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The Rumour Mill is Alive After the Announcement of PADI's Sale to Mandarinfish Holdings

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Rumours persist as to the identity of PADI’s new owners, with some speculation that the company has been sold to Chinese investors.                                

There has to date been no official press release from the agency, only that the company has been bought by a consortium of concerned individuals – as reported earlier in the week – for $700 million dollars.

Details have been in short supply since the news first appeared, but Mandarinfish Holdings, the new owner, has been described as a ‘group of wealthy families and endowments’ – according to the article by Dow Jones journalist Matthew Jazermsky, who broke the story – and ‘philanthropists who were drawn to PADI’s efforts to promote oceanic conservation as well as its business’, according to ‘people familiar with the deal.’

In recent weeks, rumours on the internet have grown that PADI was to be sold to a Chinese consortium. The previous owners, private equity group Providence Equity Partners LLC have, according to the Dow Jones, helped to expand PADI’s presence in the Asian market.

PADI have had their sights set on China for some years and the Chinese presence in the Asian dive market, particularly in countries such as Thailand and Indonesia, has increased dramatically.

In the 2014 Asia-Pacific PADI update, great stock was placed in the availability of translators to assist with market promotion on Chinese social media – as Facebook and Twitter are still unavailable in the country.

At the same time, it was also announced that a third Course Director Training Course (CDTC) would begin in Sanya in China. Previously there have only ever been two CDTCs held each year, one in the United States and a second in Malaysia.

Although the dots have yet to be connected, even the name of the new owners ‘Mandarinfish’, hints at a Chinese connection. Mandarin fish are indeed very beautiful, brightly coloured sea creatures, but the term Mandarin originally applied to Imperial Chinese bureaucrats and is also a regional dialect of the country.

This is, of course, merely speculative hearsay. Wealthy philanthropists with an interest in ocean conservation could also include the likes of Bill Gates or Richard Branson, a known diver.

The closing date for the sale – the point at which the company legally changes hands – has yet to be announced and PADI is still listed as part of Providence LLC’s portfolio on their website. It may be the case that once the legal proceedings have been finalised that there will be some form of press release.

We’ve contacted PADI regarding the rumour, but as yet have not received a reply.

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