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IWG Reportedly Mulling U.S. IPO To Compete Directly With WeWork

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IWG Reportedly Mulling U.S. IPO To Compete Directly With WeWork
Lounges at Spaces' Hudson Yards location

With WeWork's upcoming IPO drawing skepticism and criticism, one of its largest competitors is hoping to set itself apart by following suit.

IWG, the international company formed in 2014 with the acquisition of coworking operator Regus, is considering an initial public offering of its American business on the New York Stock Exchange, Sky News reports. IWG is already listed on the London Stock Exchange with a market capitalization of £3.64B, equivalent to $4.45B based on Aug. 26 exchange rates.

Though discussions surrounding IWG spinning off and listing on the NYSE are preliminary, founder and CEO Mark Dixon hopes to hit a valuation of at least £3B ($3.67B) with the move, Sky reports.

Despite more total space for lease than WeWork and yearly profits rather than billion-dollar losses, IWG's target valuation is almost 16 times less than that of The We Company after the latter's most recent funding round.

IWG's umbrella includes coworking operators that target different consumer bases: Regus, Spaces, Signature and No18. Dixon founded Regus in the late 1980s and oversaw explosive growth around the turn of the century, thanks to the dot-com bubble. When the bubble burst, so did Regus, with its American business filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2003.

IWG has been on the hunt for outside capital for at least the past two years, first by trying (and failing) to sell itself to investors such as Blackstone and Starwood Capital. The company then attempted to sell Spaces, only to fail to come to terms with a buyer once again, Sky reports.

Mark Dixon
IWG CEO Mark Dixon

More recently, IWG sold all of its locations in Japan and Taiwan by TKP Corp. to be run as franchises. It is a move it hopes to replicate all over the world to expand quickly without taking on the massive costs and debt obligations that WeWork has.

Dixon's thinking is to behave similarly to some international hotel companies and fast-food operators, according to Sky.

Skeptics of WeWork's valuation point to that bankruptcy as reason to be wary of a rapidly expanding coworking business as the economy heads into a downturn. Amid the public dissection of The We Company's IPO prospectus, competitors have been eager to establish their business models as distinct from the industry leader's perceived aggression and much-touted "spirituality."

One week after the prospectus was published by the Securities and Exchange Commission, Industrious announced the completion of a $80M fundraising round that included backers like Brookfield and Wells Fargo. As part of that announcement, the company predicted that it would be profitable by the first quarter of 2020.

The next day, Knotel announced the completion of a fundraising round of its own, led by Kuwaiti investment arm Wafra, which pegged the company's valuation at over $1B. Knotel CEO Amol Sarva has been a vocal critic of WeWork's corporate strategies for years.