Key backer SoftBank pushes WeWork to postpone its IPO amid serious concerns

Photo by Charles Koh on Unsplash

Executives of WeWork and its largest investor, SoftBank, are discussing whether to shelve plans for an initial public offering of the money-losing co-working company, said people with knowledge of the talks.

SoftBank is pressing WeWork to postpone the stock offering after investors expressed serious concerns about the business and its corporate governance, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private. WeWork had planned to hold a roadshow to promote the offering as soon as this week, an executive told analysts on Wednesday.

The Financial Times reported on SoftBank’s position earlier Monday. Representatives for SoftBank and We Co., the parent company of WeWork, declined to comment.

In the span of a few months, WeWork has gone from one of America’s most valuable unicorn startups to a punchline in investment circles. Early this year, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. pitched WeWork as a $65 billion business. Now WeWork advisers are estimating the company is worth about a third of that amount.

SoftBank Group Corp. and its affiliates hold about 29% of WeWork stock, Bloomberg reported last week. That’s even more than co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Adam Neumann, though he maintains effective voting control through a three-class share structure.

Neumann has been the subject of scrutiny from investors over disclosures in WeWork’s IPO paperwork. The company paid Neumann rent and spent $5.9 million to acquire a trademark he owned, as it lent him money. In recent months, WeWork has sought to address some of its governance issues, including adding a woman to its board.

Bloomberg

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Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.