Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 10 December 2019

WeWork is eyeing a later IPO amid plummeting valuation

SoftBank, the company's largest investor, renamed it We Company with a valuation of $47bn in January, but more recent listing value is estimated at only about $15bn

WeWork has chosen to list their IPO on the Nasdaq and has delayed its trading debut to the end of the year. AFP
WeWork has chosen to list their IPO on the Nasdaq and has delayed its trading debut to the end of the year. AFP

WeWork, with its estimated valuation crashing, said it expects to complete its initial public offering by the end of this year, indicating a delay of its much-awaited listing.

It was reported earlier the offering is likely to be postponed until at least October.

“The We Company is looking forward to our upcoming IPO, which we expect to be completed by the end of the year," the company said on Monday in New York. ”We want to thank all of our employees, members and partners for their ongoing commitment.”

SoftBank, the rental office company’s biggest investor, had pressed WeWork to put off the stock offering amid doubts about the business. WeWork had planned to begin making its pitch to investors in a roadshow as soon as this week.

In January, SoftBank made its last investment in WeWork, renamed the We Company, at a valuation of $47 billion (Dh172.6bn). The company was more recently expected to be valued at only about $15bn in a listing and perhaps even less.

The decision will at least temporarily sideline an important source of capital for the money-losing business and could threaten a $6bn credit financing that was contingent on a successful offering. The facility requires the company to carry out its IPO by December 31.

The delay also adds another sour note to a medley of high-profile but frequently disappointing IPOs this year. The offering was expected to have been the biggest after Uber’s $8.1bn listing and ahead of Avantor’s $2.9bn IPO and the $2.34bn offering by Uber’s ride-hailing rival Lyft. Of those three, only Avantor is trading above its offer price.

WeWork’s likely delay was reported earlier by the Wall Street Journal.

WeWork has become an extreme example of the excesses afforded to technology entrepreneurs in the era of unicorns – start-ups valued at $1bn or more. Adam Neumann, WeWork’s co-founder and chief executive, was able to raise billions of dollars at astronomical valuations and spend freely, while retaining effective control over operations through special classes of stock.

In an effort to keep its IPO on track, WeWork last week took steps to limit Mr Neumann’s control of the company after an IPO, as well as other measures to improve its corporate governance.

Updated: September 17, 2019 11:56 AM

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