Fitch Downgrades WeWork: Improvements 'Not Materializing,' Bankruptcy Close
Fitch moved WeWork from CC, meaning default appears probable, to C, which means a default or a “default-like process” has begun. The ratings agency now assumes that WeWork will be reorganized as a going concern in bankruptcy, though not liquidated. Less than a year ago, Fitch downgraded WeWork to CC.
WeWork's solvency has been in question for months, and this week's news that it would skip the payments as it negotiates with landlords and creditors sent fresh shockwaves through the company's investor base. Its stock price tumbled 25% on Tuesday to its lowest price on record.
The ratings agency has also downgraded $1.4B of WeWork's existing debt.
Fitch reported that WeWork's recent restructuring efforts have provided some liquidity for the company, but its cash burn hasn't slowed. As of the end of the first quarter, WeWork had $422M in cash on hand, but by the end of Q2, that balance was $205M. In July and August, the coworking giant tapped $475M in a first-lien facility issued as part of the restructuring.
“Adequate liquidity depends on WeWork's ability to improve its operating performance, and so far this is not materializing,” Fitch said in a statement.
WeWork continues to be weighed down by a number of challenges, according to Fitch, especially economic conditions that will lead to 2023 revenue being flat and projected revenue growth of a mere 2% next year.
“An important driver of this will be WeWork's pricing power, which Fitch expects to be an ongoing challenge, especially if the broader economy contracts,” the ratings agency said.
On the positive side, Fitch reported that WeWork is realizing savings via cost cutting, especially from headcount reduction and exiting some leases, “though it is uncertain if improvements will be soon enough to avoid default.”
WeWork stock ticked up nearly 2% early on Friday, trading at about $2.36 a share. Compared with a year ago, however, and taking into account its recent reverse split to maintain its listing, WeWork stock is down more than 98% in value.