WeWork Reaches a Debt Restructuring Deal With SoftBank - The World News

WeWork Reaches a Debt Restructuring Deal With SoftBank

WeWork, the struggling office space company, said on Friday that it had reached a deal with SoftBank and other investors to significantly reduce its debt and secure new financing.

The agreement would cancel or convert into equity about $1.5 billion of the company’s debt, reducing WeWork’s total debt to less than $2.4 billion, the company said. In addition, the company will have until 2027 to repay $1.9 billion of its remaining debt, or two years later than those debts are currently set to mature.

The deal culminates a tumultuous ride for WeWork, once regarded by venture capitalists as one of the most valuable and promising start-ups. The company, founded by Adam Neumann and backed by SoftBank, sought to shake up the humdrum world of commercial real estate by leasing trendy office space on a short-term basis to large corporations, small businesses and individuals.

But that business model never quite lived up to the grand visions of Mr. Neumann and Masayoshi Son, the founder and top executive at SoftBank. In September 2019, the company scrapped an initial public offering, Mr. Neumann stepped down as chief executive, and SoftBank spent billions to keep the firm going.

The pandemic leveled another big blow, greatly reducing the demand for office space. WeWork has spent the past few years cutting costs by renegotiating and terminating leases with commercial landlords, making progress toward becoming a sustainable business. But the company remains unprofitable and carries a large debt.

The deal announced on Friday will greatly reduce that debt, increase the cash on WeWork’s balance sheet by $290 million and give the company access to $475 million in new financing commitments. In a statement, WeWork said it was “ideally positioned to capture tailwinds of the global shift towards flex from traditional office.”

WeWork’s shareholders will get to vote on the terms of the debt restructuring, and the company will also seek approval from bondholders.

After an initial gain on the announcement, the company’s stock price ended slightly lower on Friday, at less than 98 cents. Its shares traded at more than $8 in late 2021 after WeWork went public by merging with a special purpose acquisition company.

WeWork said it had notified the Securities and Exchange Commission that it would be late in filing its annual report because of its debt deal. The company said it would aim to file the report by March 31.

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