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WeWork Is Trying To Sell Debt To Fund More Growth, And It's Not Alone

WeWork, which reorganized under parent business The We Company early this year, wants to raise $3B to $4B in debt financing before it goes public, Reuters reports. Meanwhile, a smaller coworking competitor is also planning an IPO.


WeWork's debt banking is intended to help boost investor confidence in the company, which is still a loss-making entity. Other loss-making tech companies, such as Uber and Lyft, have experienced disappointing initial public offerings recently.

According to The We Company, its losses were $264M during the first quarter, down slightly from a year earlier. 

The funds raised by such a debt offering, which would be separate from an IPO, could grow to as much as $10B in a few years, Reuters reported. WeWork has been in talks with JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs about the debt offering.

As WeWork has moved closer to its long-anticipated IPO, one major Chinese competitor of the coworking giant — Ucommune, founded in Beijing in 2015 — is looking to do its own U.S. IPO in the near future.

Ucommune, which has over 200 locations worldwide, offers a similar set of products as WeWork, including hot desks and coworking spaces and other services for small and midsized businesses. A 2020 IPO would raise anything from $100M to $200M for the company, Bloomberg reports, citing anonymous sources.

Ucommune is one of a number of aggressively growing coworking companies founded in China in the 2010s that are now struggling to come out on top in that country. The company was originally known as UrWork, but WeWork challenged the name in court in 2017 as an infringement on its trademark.

After a boom of coworking operations in China in recent years, a lack of fresh financing has winnowed their numbers. During the 10 months from January to October 2018, 40 companies in the shared-office sector in China vanished, while about 40% of coworking projects are more than half empty, according to a report by the China Real Estate Chamber of Commerce, the South China Morning Post reports.

Like WeWork, Ucommune was reportedly planning an IPO last year, but postponed it. After its Series D round financing late last year — and its acquisitions of competitors Fountown, Woo Space, Wedo Space, Workingdom and New Space — the company is valued at about $1.8B. 

WeWork's latest valuation is contentious, but it has been reported as high as $47B.