Adam Neumann, the hawkish co-founder of WeWork, and SoftBank, the Japanese conglomerate that saved the co-working company in 2019, have made significant gains in recent weeks toward settling their drawn-out legal dispute, two The matter according to the knowledge of the people. That fight has stalled SoftBank’s efforts to make WeWork public.
As part of WeWork’s own multibillion-dollar bailout, SoftBank offered to pay $ 3 billion for the stock owned by Mr. Newman and other shareholders. Several months later, after the epidemic of coronavirus virus had evacuated Wawork’s locations, SoftBank withdrew the offer. Mr. Newman then sued Softbank for breach of contract.
SoftBank was already a major investor in WeWork when it withdrew plans for an initial public offering in 2019. Now, SoftBank plans to merge WeWork with a publicly traded special purpose acquisition company, which has recently become a popular approach. Quickly making private companies public. The legal dispute between Mr. Newman and SoftBank is a threat to such a deal as it leaves the question of how much control Softbank has over Wawork.
Both people said the settlement negotiations, previously reported by The Wall Street Journal, could still fall. Under the terms being discussed, SoftBank will buy half the number of shares it originally agreed to, one of them said. As a result, it will pay $ 1.5 billion, not $ 3 billion. Mr. Newman would get about $ 500 million instead of about $ 1 billion, but would retain more of his shares.
Under Mr. Newman, WeWork grew at a breakneck pace and was using so much cash that it was close to bankruptcy before stepping into SoftBank. With management teams set up under SoftBank, WeWork has tried to slow down its growth and cut deals with deals. Landlords rented it from space.