It is probably fair to say that scuba diving began in earnest in 1946.
It was the year that Air Liquide, along with Jacques Cousteau and Emile Gagnan founded 'La Spirotechnique'. This company conceived, designed and manufactured a range of scuba diving equipment, including some of the first commercially available regulators. Their first modern 'Aqua-Lung' or regulator was the CG45.
Two years later in 1948, Rene Bussoz, a relative of Cousteau, based in California signed a five year contract with L'Air Liquide to import scuba equipment into the USA. Bussoz was a smart man. He changed the name 'La Spirotechnique' to 'US Divers' and registered the name 'Aqua-Lung'. When his contract was not renewed, Bussoz sold his company and the trademark Aqua-Lung back to the French company.
We now jump forward to 1997, when AquaLung acquired Apeks. This British scuba diving manufacturer (founded in 1974) primarily focused on designing and building a range of regulators that perform in all climates.
Just over a decade later, in 2010, AquaLung bought Whites Manufacturing - a Canadian drysuit manufacturer.
And so the AquaLung group of companies grew - Apeks, Aqua Sphere. La Spirotechnique, Pelagic, Seaquest, Technisub and US Divers - gaining global recognition as the company successfully forayed into several other aquatic equipment markets (including free diving, snorkelling, fitness and competition swimming).
Then on 4th October 2016 a European private equity firm (Montagu Private Equity) announced that it had "entered exclusive negotiations with Air Liquide for the potential acquisition of AquaLung".
By now the AquaLung group employed 1,000 staff in more than 90 countries across the world, generating approximately €200 million in 2015.
As 2016 came to a close, Air Liquide announced that they had completed the sale of the pioneering firm AquaLung to Montagu Private Equity on Friday 30th December 2016.
Whilst the terms of the transaction have not been disclosed, rumours in the industry indicate that the AquaLung group was sold for approximately
As with all rumours, this figure should be taken with a pinch of salt.
So what can we expect in the future for Aqua Lung? Montagu Private Equity business is to buy other businesses and "maximize investor value". Interpret this statement accordingly. We are all in for an interesting time it would seem.