SoftBank to take control of WeWork

A man enter the doors of the ‘WeWork’ co-operative co-working space in Washington, DC.Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty ImagesSoftBank has struck a deal to take control of WeWork, the co-working company announced.The company said the Japanese conglomerate will provide $5 billion in new financing and up to $3 billion in a tender offer for existing shareholders. SoftBank will also speed up an existing $1.5 billion financing commitment, WeWork said in a release.After completion and tender offer, SoftBank’s stake in WeWork will be approximately 80%.SoftBank Chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son said in a statement, “SoftBank is a firm believer that the world is undergoing a massive transformation in the way people work. WeWork is at the forefront of this revolution.”The Japanese billionaire said WeWork’s “growth challenges” are “not unusual for the world’s leading technology disruptors.””Since the vision remains unchanged, SoftBank has decided to double down on the company by providing a significant capital infusion and operational support. We remain committed to WeWork, its employees, its member customers and landlords,” Son said in a statement.Tokyo-listed shares of SoftBank had fallen nearly 3% ahead of the announcement.As part of the deal, WeWork said it will appoint SoftBank’s chief operating officer, Marcelo Claure, to executive chairman of its board of directors. Former WeWork CEO Adam Neumann will become a “board observer” as the company expands the panel of directors and receives voting control over his shares, the company said.The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that SoftBank would hand Neumann as much as $1.7 billion in exchange for his agreement to step down as chairman and give up his voting rights.CNBC’s David Faber first reported on Monday that SoftBank would spend between $4 billion and $5 billion on new equity and existing shares in WeWork’s parent company, The We Co. The deal would value WeWork between $7.5 billion and $8 billion on a pre-funding basis, which is a fraction of the $47 billion private valuation assigned to it earlier.Co-CEOs Artie Minson and Sebastian Gunningham replaced Adam Neumann in September after he attracted scrutiny for his unusual leadership style and apparent conflicts of interest. Late last month, WeWork pulled its IPO filing amid criticism from investors, mounting losses and a dwindling IPO valuation.Since Neumann’s departure, WeWork’s new leadership has worked to get the company back on track to growth, including exploring the sale of several businesses. The company was also expected to lay off at least 2,000 people, or 13% of its staff, and more job cuts could be on the way, according to The Guardian.

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