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SoftBank Won't Buy $3B In WeWork Stock As Planned, Citing Investigations

SoftBank is backing out of its $3B tender offer for WeWork shares that it agreed to last year as part of its bailout of the coworking giant. That includes not paying ousted WeWork founder Adam Neumann $970M for his stake.


Tokyo-based SoftBank cited the criminal and civil investigations of WeWork that began after the bailout deal was struck in October, though it didn't specify what authorities were investigating, the Wall Street Journal reports. SoftBank also said the pandemic is one of the reasons for not acquiring WeWork shares.

SoftBank Senior Vice President Rob Townsend nevertheless told the WSJ that "SoftBank remains fully committed to the success of WeWork." 

Even so, SoftBank's move also means it isn't obligated to provide WeWork with $1.1B in debt financing, The Guardian reports, which would intensify WeWork's money problems at a time when its tenants are staying away and demanding refunds.

“WeWork is in real trouble and SoftBank’s withdrawal from the share purchase worsens the situation materially,” independent analyst Richard Windsor wrote in a note, as reported by CNBC.

A special committee of WeWork's board, which had previously demanded that SoftBank go through with the deal, said that WeWork is now considering litigation.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, WeWork had been struggling to stay afloat in the wake of its failed IPO, and it installed new management, including new CEO Sandeep Mathrani, to try. Among other maneuvers, WeWork has been selling non-core businesses at steep discounts.

More recently, the company has been offering discounts to tenants in hopes of getting them to ink long-term leases. Mathrani has also called some of WeWork's biggest landlords in hopes of a rent bill cut as high as 30%, Bloomberg reports.