WeWork may acquire controlling stake in India unit for up to $1b

Pedestrians pass outside a shared office space, operated by WeWork Cos Inc., in London, U.K., on Monday, Aug. 14, 2017. Photographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg via Getty Images

US-based co-working space provider WeWork, which is rebranding itself as The We Company, is in talks to buy at least a 51 per cent stake in its India business, according to a Times of India report.

WeWork’s India unit is currently managed by Indian real estate developer Jitu Virwani of Embassy Group through a licensing deal. The US company wants to take back control before its licensing deal ends with Virwani in 2021, in a deal which could be valued up to $1 billion.

The report follows the Japanese investment giant SoftBank Group shelving its plan of acquiring a controlling stake in WeWork and making a smaller $2-billion investment instead. SoftBank has invested $10 billion so far and WeWork still has about $7 billion in cash, it is reported.

Per the Times of India report, Virwani and his team are scheduled to meet WeWork co-founder Adam Neumann in the third week of this month to discuss a potential deal.

In May last year, it was reported that WeWork India was in talks to raise up to $200 million, which could earn it the unicorn tag. At the time, the India unit was said to be in talks with global investment giants such as Goldman Sachs, Warburg Pincus and Singapore’s GIC for fundraising.

Early last year, it was reported that Embassy Group had invested around Rs 100 crore ($15.6 million at the time) in its joint venture company WeWork India. At the time, Embassy Buildcon was allocated 100,00,000 compulsory convertible debentures in return for its investment. As per regulatory filings, of the total Rs 100 crore, the Embassy Group had already invested Rs 50 crore into WeWork India by the end of 2017.

Co-working or shared working spaces have picked up momentum in the last two years. Apart from the Embassy Group’s investment in WeWork India, RMZ has set up Cowrks. Last month, it was reported that Ascendas-Singbridge was also planning to launch in India its ‘thebridge’ co-working space brand, which was launched in Singapore in 2017.

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