WeWork Is Now Publicly Traded After Completing Merger With SPAC
Two years after WeWork's first attempt at an initial public offering nearly sunk the company, it is finally on the public stock market.
The brand name in coworking finalized its merger with BowX Acquisition Corp. in a transaction expected to generate $1.3B in new capital, the company announced on Wednesday. Starting Thursday, WeWork is now trading on the New York Stock Exchange with the symbol WE, with an opening price of $10.38 per share, which was BowX's closing price on Wednesday. After its first day of trading, WeWork's price had risen 13.5% to $11.79 per share after over 11 million trades.
By merging with BowX, a special-purpose acquisition company created by Bow Capital founders Vivek Ranadive and Murray Rode, WeWork avoided the increased scrutiny of the traditional IPO process. It was the upsetting financial picture disclosed in WeWork's IPO prospectus that punctured the company's image and private valuation over $40B. WeWork's merger deal with BowX valued the combined company at around $8B, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The financial picture WeWork has presented to initial public investors is still that of a money-losing enterprise, though CEO Sandeep Mathrani has projected the company to reach profitability by the end of next year. Mathrani has also presided over cost-cutting initiatives that narrowed the gap between WeWork's incoming revenue and its losses so far this year, despite a pandemic-driven drop in revenue.
Since May, WeWork has been on an upward trajectory even through the headwinds presented by the delta variant, with the company reporting September as its fifth consecutive month with growth in revenue and occupancy. The company's third quarter preliminary total revenue hit $658M, a 10% increase over the second quarter, while occupancy rose from 52% in Q2 to 60% in Q3, according to WeWork disclosures.
SoftBank Group, the financial backer that drove WeWork's private valuation so high, will retain the majority stake it acquired in the wake of the failed IPO. Pre-merger investors in the BowX SPAC, including Cushman & Wakefield, will own a combined 8%.
PJT Partners served as WeWork's financial adviser for the merger with BowX, while Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP provided legal counsel. UBS Investment Bank provided financial advice to BowX, with Cooley LLP serving as the SPAC's legal counsel.
UPDATE, OCT. 21, 4:40 P.M. ET: This article has been updated to reflect WeWork's stock price at the close of trading on Thursday.