BENGALURU: Shares in WeWork, owned by SoftBank, rose nearly 9% when it finally went public in New York on Thursday, culminating an arduous journey to public markets for the once-$ 47 billion shared office company.
While WeWork’s top management, led by current SoftBank president and CEO Marcelo Claure, insists the worst is over, the shared-office company continues to lose money, two years after its initial public offering failed.
“WeWork has a low occupancy rate, 55-58% recently, so you can increase revenue without increasing costs too much. You need to increase revenue because you are currently losing about $ 1 for every dollar of revenue you generate,” said OPI expert Jay Ritter, a professor at the University of Florida.
In 2019, when WeWork first embarked on its efforts to go public under founder and former CEO Adam Newman, the proposed share sale exploded spectacularly after IPO investors dismissed the company’s large losses. , Newman’s management style, and the downfall of WeWork’s corporate governance.
Once seen as a worthy gamble by SoftBank boss Masayoshi Son, who personally endorsed Neumann, the Japanese conglomerate was forced to bail out WeWork after its valuation was lowered from $ 47 billion to $ 8 billion later. of the failed offer that threatened the survival of the company.
Son was subsequently forced to concede that betting big on WeWork was a mistake.
WeWork is not yet profitable. The company posted a net attributable loss of $ 888.85 million in the second quarter, compared to $ 863.83 million in the prior year.
Shares of the loser, who in March signed a public $ 9 billion deal with BowX Acquisition Corp to acquire White, rose 10.79% to $ 11.50 in the afternoon.
Neumann continues to hold a significant stake in the company, valued at around $ 1 billion, and under the terms of WeWork’s exit package, he will be eligible to oversee board meetings starting next year, although he is no longer a member. of the board.
Neumann’s name can be seen dozens of times in the corporate group presentation, although he no longer holds executive positions at WeWork.
Neumann also played an indirect role in helping put together the SPAC deal, Reuters reported in March, and according to a New York Times report Thursday, Miguel McKelvey, co-founder of Neumann and WeWork, held a party Thursday to celebrate the listing.
Experts say the real test for WeWork will begin now, as most companies around the world have embraced hybrid business models and in several cases a complete switch to working from home even after widespread vaccinations.
“Investors are betting that the company has moved from a model focused on increasing its office space to one focused on minimizing losses and making profits.”