Reports Suggests PADI is up for Sale … Again
An article began circulating on social media last night, speculating that the current owners of PADI may be in talks to sell the dive industry's largest certification agency to the owners of Aqua Lung, one of the world's largest and oldest producers of scuba diving equipment.
Citing a 'generally well-informed' source, business consultant and marketing strategist Darcy Kieran, writing in the online journal Scubanomics, writes that: 'the American families who have just recently purchased PADI for US$700m are putting PADI up for sale, again, this time with an asking price of US$1.2 billion'.
We contacted Scubanomics for comment, who replied that their main source 'is a top executive in the dive industry,' and that the 'deal is not done though, from what we've heard. It could happen - or not. (And most likely for less than the asking price if it does.)'
As DIVE's readers will know, PADI was sold by then owners Providence Equity Partners LLC to an American consortium called Mandarin Holdings in 2017 with an asking price of US$1 billion, of which Mandarin paid $700 million. The name of the group led to speculation at the time that PADI had been bought by a Chinese consortium, although it was later stated by PADI in a press release that the group was based in North America.
In his Scubanomics article, Kieran then goes on to state that they are hearing 'from various sources' that talks 'are on-going' over the sale of PADI to Montagu, the company that acquired Aqua Lung from Air Liquide, around the same time that PADI was sold to Mandarin Holdings.
The article speculates on the various reasons that Mandarin Holdings may have come to think that they had backed the wrong horse. PADI has, indeed, made several blunders in recent years. Professional membership fees have increased with little in the way of tangible benefit to its legions of instructors, and an attempt to prevent some dive centres operating through multiple agencies in 2013/14 caused an uproar in the dive community.
As a result, many dive centres and instructors have since 'crossed-over' to become SSI members, a move that is almost certain to have affected PADI's income, during years when a worldwide economic downturn has brought little growth to the dive industry as a whole.
At this early stage, speculation over a possible merger between PADI and Aqua Lung is exactly that - speculation, but the sale of PADI to Mandarin Holdings remained mostly confined to the rumour mill until the deal was actually done. We'll be sure to provide updates on the situation as and when any details emerge.