SoftBank, WeWork's Largest Investor, Takes Control of the Embattled Office Company, With Co-founder Adam Neumann Stepping Down
SoftBank, WeWork's largest investor, is attempting to rescue the embattled office company with a bailout plan reported Tuesday by The Wall Street Journal.
The deal will value WeWork at about $8 billion, per The Journal, far less than the $47 billion valuation from SoftBank's January investment.
The Japanese investor will provide the WeWork cofounder Adam Neumann with almost $1.7 billion. He'll sell nearly $1 billion of stock to SoftBank, step down as board chairman, and receive a $185 million consulting fee as well as a $500 million credit line, The Journal said. Neumann will maintain a stake in the company and stay on as a board observer -- someone who attends board meetings but does not vote.
SoftBank's $1 billion stock purchase will be part of a larger $3 billion tender offer to other employees and investors, The Journal said.
Full details of the deal are not yet clear. Representatives for SoftBank and WeWork did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Neumann's spokeswoman declined comment until the official announcement is made.
Reuters reported on Monday that the company would offer WeWork $5 billion in debt; accelerate a $1.5 billion equity commitment scheduled for next year; and buy $3 billion worth of stock from investors including Neumann. SoftBank would own 60 percent to 80 percent of WeWork.
WeWork earlier this year was in talks to borrow $6 billion from banks, a deal contingent on raising at least $3 billion in a public float. But after the company released its initial-public-offering filing in mid-August, investors, analysts, and the media highlighted problems with its business model, conflicts of interest, and leadership. Six weeks later, WeWork's board of directors ousted the controversial Neumann as CEO and replaced him with two co-CEOs, who shelved the IPO indefinitely.