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WeWork sees IPO completed by end of year as valuations plummet

WeWork has become an extreme example of the excesses afforded to technology entrepreneurs in the era of unicorns, startups valued at $1 billion or more.

Bloomberg|
Sep 17, 2019, 09.39 AM IST
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By Gillian Tan, Liana Baker and Michelle F. Davis

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

“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 in a statement on Monday evening in New York. ”We want to thank all of our employees, members and partners for their ongoing commitment.”

Bloomberg News reported earlier that the offering is likely to be postponed until at least October.

SoftBank Group Corp., the office-rental company’s biggest investor, had pressed WeWork to put off the stock offering amid doubts about the business, people familiar with the matter said previously. 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 Co., at a valuation of $47 billion. The company was more recently expected to be valued at only about $15 billion in a listing and perhaps even less, people familiar with the matter have said.

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

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 Technologies Inc.’s $8.1 billion listing and ahead of Avantor Inc.’s $2.9 billion IPO and the $2.34 offering by Uber’s ride-hailing rival Lyft Inc. 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 -- startups valued at $1 billion or more. Adam Neumann, WeWork’s co-founder and chief executive officer, 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 Neumann’s control of the company after an IPO, as well as other measures to improve its corporate governance.

(With assistance from Scott Deveau, Ellen Huet and Sridhar Natarajan.)

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