SoftBank to provide up to $9.5 bil. to WeWork

24, Oct. 2019

TOKYO, Kyodo – SoftBank Group Corp. will provide up to $9.5 billion to the U.S. operator of co-working space WeWork as part of a bailout package to rebuild the embattled firm, the two companies said Wednesday.

SoftBank will own about an 80 percent stake in New-York based We Company once the funding deal is closed. But it will not hold a majority of voting rights and the operator will not become a subsidiary, they said.

Under the agreement, SoftBank's Chief Operating Officer Marcelo Claure will be appointed executive chairman of We Company's board of directors to replace Adam Neumann, the founder of the company. Neumann will become a board observer, the two companies said.

WeWork, founded in 2010, leases more than 500 co-work spaces in some 30 countries, including about 20 locations in Japan. The operator's initial public offering was expected in September but postponed as its mounting losses raised doubts about its business outlook.

The funding by SoftBank includes $5 billion in new financing and up to a $3 billion tender offer for existing shareholders. The Japanese telecommunications and internet services giant will also accelerate an existing commitment to provide funding of $1.5 billion, they said.

“SoftBank is a firm believer that the world is undergoing a massive transformation in the way people work,” said SoftBank Chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son in a press release. “WeWork is at the forefront of this revolution.”

“Since the vision remains unchanged, SoftBank has decided to double down on the company by providing a significant capital infusion and operational support,” he said.

SoftBank has already invested over $10 billion into WeWork as Son pushes financing of prospective tech startups via its nearly $100 billion Vision Fund. But the additional funding will be directly provided to the WeWork operator without using the fund, according to the Japanese company.(Kyodo)