ipo: WeWork considers dropping valuation below $20 billion: Dow Jones

By Giles Turner, Michelle F. Davis and Gillian Tan

WeWork is considering a valuation for its initial public offering that may be below $20 billion, Dow Jones reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

The office-sharing company has plans to begin a roadshow for new investors as early as Monday. But its parent company, We Co., and its underwriters are planning to hold meetings this week with investors to figure out the changes that may be needed to pull sufficient demand for a share sale, Dow reported. Some investors are pushing the company to postpone the IPO, the news service said.

Earlier this year, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. bankers were saying WeWork could soon become a $65 billion company. Banks up and down Wall Street were salivating at the prospect of steering the company onto the stock market, even though it was losing billions of dollars.

Now, with questions swirling around WeWork’s business prospects, the hype has run headlong into reality. On Friday, the company was also in talks with SoftBank Group Corp., its biggest investor, for more financing that could delay the IPO even further and force its valuation far lower than the $47 billion it was worth at the beginning of the year, people familiar told Bloomberg.

Co-founder Adam Neumann’s preference is for the company to go public, one of the people said. The startup has a big incentive to complete the listing. Its access to a $6 billion credit facility is contingent on it successfully raising $3 billion in a stock listing.

It’s a remarkable comedown for WeWork, the signature grandiose-dreaming, money-chewing startup of these financial times. Seemingly overnight, its IPO has gone from one of the most hotly anticipated in years to a referendum on the era of so-called unicorn startups.

The New York-based venture, yet to turn a profit in its nine-year existence, was said to be considering a market debut at a valuation of $20 billion to $30 billion just last week. The range could end up closer to $20 billion, one of the people said.

Goldman Sachs made its $65 billion prediction at a meeting where it was invited to pitch for a role on the future listing, according to another person with knowledge of the matter. SoftBank Vice Chairman Ron Fisher and Mark Schwartz, a WeWork director representing the Japanese conglomerate, arranged the meeting, held sometime in the first quarter, the people said

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