WeWork, once valued at $40 billion, warns of possible bankruptcy as it submits ‘going concern’ notice

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Four years ago, WeWork was preparing for a blockbuster IPO. Now the company is warning of possible bankruptcy.

“Our losses and negative cash flows from operating activities raise substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern,” WeWork said in a filing with the SEC on Tuesday.

The spectacular collapse of a company once valued by SoftBank at $40 billion has been years in the making, but is still surprising given the number of large commercial buildings around the world that don the company’s name. The combination of the Covid pandemic, which led many businesses to exit their leases in favor of remote work, and the subsequent economic slump, has left WeWork heavy on debt and struggling to generate cash.

“If we are not successful in improving our liquidity position and the profitability of our operations, we may need to consider all strategic alternatives, including restructuring or refinancing our debt, seeking additional debt or equity capital, reducing or delaying our business activities and strategic initiatives, or selling assets, other strategic transactions and/or other measures, including obtaining relief under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code,” the company said.

WeWork’s stock has been trading below $1 since mid-March. It tumbled 26% to 15 cents in extended trading on Tuesday and now has a market cap below $500 million.

The company had a net loss in the first half of the year of $700 million after losing $2.3 billion in 2022. As of June 30, it had $205 million in cash and equivalents and total liquidity of $680 million. It has $2.91 billion in long-term debt.

WeWork first sought to go public in 2019, publishing its initial prospectus in August of that year. With its full financials available for everyone to see, the business was roundly criticized due to excessive spending and risks along with founder Adam Neumann’s complex relationship at the company.

The IPO never made it out the door. SoftBank founder and CEO Masayoshi Son called his investment in WeWork “foolish” and his company took majority control of the business in a $5 billion financing package. Neumann was forced to step down.

In 2021, WeWork finally became public through a merger with a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC. But the turbulence continued. WeWork said its revenue grew just 3.6% year over year in the second quarter and declined 4% in the U.S., where it gets 41% of its sales.

Economic conditions led more members to depart, bring down revenue and cash flow, WeWork said. Even SoftBank is spending less on WeWork. In the second quarter, the company contributed $6 million of WeWork’s revenue, down from $10 million in the second quarter of 2022, according to the filing.

Key factors for whether WeWork can remain a going concern include limiting capital expenditures, increasing revenue and seeking capital through debt or equity issuance.

Three board members resigned last week because of “a material disagreement regarding Board governance and the Company’s strategic and tactical direction.” Daniel Hurwitz, who had been chair since May, was one of them.

WeWork is still searching for a permanent leader. The company said in May that CEO Sandeep Mathrani would step down within days and that board member David Tolley, a former finance chief at Intelsat, would become interim CEO.

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