25 October 2019 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal
Japan's SoftBank Group Corporation has announced an agreement to provide significant funding to WeWork, the shared flexible workspaces company.
The package includes $5 billion in new financing and the launching of a tender offer by SoftBank of up to $3 billion for existing shareholders.
Additionally, SoftBank will be accelerating an existing commitment to fund $1.5 billion.
The funding provides WeWork with "significant liquidity to execute its business plan to accelerate its path to profitability and positive free cash flow".
After closing, and following the tender offer, SoftBank's fully diluted economic ownership of WeWork will be about 80 per cent.
Because SoftBank will not hold a majority of voting rights at any general stockholder meeting or board of directors meeting and does not control the company, WeWork will not be a subsidiary of SoftBank. WeWork will be an associate of SoftBank.
Masayoshi Son, chairman and CEO of SoftBank, said: "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. It is not unusual for the world's leading technology disruptors to experience growth challenges as the one WeWork just faced. 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."
As part of the agreement, WeWork's board will appoint Marcelo Claure, chief operating officer of SoftBank, as WeWork 's executive chairman of the board of directors, to take effect upon closing of the accelerated $1.5 billion payment commitment.
Adam Neumann, WeWork's founder, will become a board observer. The size of the board will be expanded and it will receive voting control over Neumann's shares.