SoftBank Could Be Sidelined As WeWork IPO Valuation Likely Below $20 Billion: Reports

The Japanese investing firm SoftBank was ignored by the WeWork owner The We Company with relation to the workplace sharing and renting company’s planned initial public offering as the United States based firm is contemplating bringing down its IPO valuation to $20 billion, according to reports quoting sources.

SoftBank has been pushing The We Company to delay the IPO because of the condition of the market and the possibility of the valuation of the company coming down. The Japanese firm is also worried because some of its most important portfolio firms have come down in market value.

According to the latest reports quoting sources, the market valuation of The We Company which is still a loss making one – could be as low as between $15 billion and $18 billion. Some reports however have quoted sources saying that the valuation would not be that low.

According to reports, the US firm “may have no choice but to push ahead with the IPO at a much lower than anticipated valuation,” according to sources because SoftBank, a conglomerate that is is primarily focused on investing in tech startups, is reportedly reluctant to invest more money in WeWork.

The demand for delaying of the IPO of The We Company is based on weak initial trading of some other tech based startups that went public earlier this year and includes names such as Uber Technologies Inc and Slack Technologies Inc, both of which have investments from SoftBank.

SoftBank founder and CEO Masayoshi Son has made public his plans for IPO launches for the tech companies that the conglomerate is invested in – ranging from ride hailing companies to firms in the fintech sector to healthcare startups, even though the Japanese firm has a stated objective for its Vision Fund which is achieving long-term investing credentials.

However, the schedule of the plans for SoftBank to accumulate funds from investors to set up its second Vision Fund could be disturbed by the delay of WeWork’s offering. SoftBank has said that it has already secured pledges of $108 billion for its second Vision Fund.

Earlier this year, a follow-on investment was made in WeWork by SoftBank – the largest by the Japanese investment company in the tech arena so far, which valued WeWork at $47 billion. However analysts are widely skeptic about about that valuation of the US firm.

According to reports, the launch of The We Company IPO is being pushed by SoftBank group Vice Chairman Ron Fisher while other executives of at the company are in favor of a postponement.

It is possible that an alternative funding plan could be drawn up by SoiftBank is WeWork halts its IPO, said Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Chris Lane said. The US firm requires about $9 billion of funding to turn itself into a company with a positive cash-flow, Lane said.

Lane, who believes that the actual valuation of the office space-sharing firm is $23 billion, said that SoftBank “have got an important voice, but more importantly they have money … (WeWork) will have to listen to them.”

(Adapted from LiveMint.com)

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