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April 2018    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 44, No. 4   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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So Who Owns PADI?

from the April, 2018 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

The Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) may be the biggest and most influential dive-training agency in the world, but it has metamorphosed since its original conception, by John Cronin and Ralph Erickson, and from its original mission statement, to become big business.

Once the original owners had passed away, it was sold as a going concern to an investment company, Providence Equity, that got a good return on the deal when it sold it in short order to its latest owner, Mandarinfish Holdings.

With that company name and with the incredible growth of the diving market in the Far East, many assumed that it was Chinese money doing the talking, but in fact it seems to be cash from a group of wealthy American families based in South Florida that secured the business -- and for a price rumored to be close to $700 million, quite a discounted rate on the original asking price of a billion dollars.

Why let it go at so far below the asking price? Providence Equity had hoped to make a killing with PADI's online presence with its Facebook page for scuba divers, eLearning courses, and eCommerce. All have sunk without trace. Far from the new owners being Chinese, it appears that the prime mover in this recent acquisition of PADI is the son of an aerospace billionaire from Palm Beach, FL, and it's managed by a former Providence Equity employee, Albert J. Dobron.

So it looks like the sale of PADI to Mandarinfish Holding was managed with a little inside knowledge. Amin C. Khoury is the son of the founder of B/E Aerospace, who in turn, it is thought, had sold that business to Rockwell for $6.4 billion, leaving the family awash with cash. As announced in February's Undercurrent, PADI has recently acquired an online dive-travel booking agency (Diviac) and renamed it PADI Travel. The new owners obviously see possibilities beyond the core business of dive training.

However, it appears that these financial dealings with the personal profits assumed to be involved are not well publicized. It doesn't necessarily sit well with PADI's public image or the image assumed of it by its great number of fee-paying members [instructors].

(abstracted, in part, from a Scubanomics internet article by Darcy Kieran)

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