The We Company, parent of the heavily lossmaking shared office space provider WeWork, disclosed on Monday it has filed paperwork to go public, adding to the backlog of highly valued, privately held companies pursuing a stock market listing.
The company said in a statement it had confidentially submitted plans for a listing in December and recently had made amendments to its filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
“From the first day, the goal of our company has always been about making a difference, impacting as many people as possible, and creating a world where people make a life and not just a living,” Adam Neumann, the WeWork chief executive wrote on Monday in a memo to employees that was seen by the Financial Times.
Mr Neumann added in the memo that he did not have a timetable for a listing to share with employees, but people with knowledge of the company’s thinking said it could come as soon as this year.
The planned share sale comes just months after WeWork raised $1bn in fresh capital at a $47bn post-money valuation from Japan’s SoftBank, one of the company’s biggest backers.
The deal, announced in January, saw SoftBank dramatically scale back what was a planned investment of as much as $16bn, opting to rein in its bet. The Japanese company also bought out up to $1bn in existing WeWork shares at a $20bn valuation.
Mr Neumann, who also co-founded WeWork, used the investment to rebrand the business as The We Company, with ambitions beyond office rentals. The company has launched ventures in housing and education as it seeks to broaden its offerings.
Some investors have questioned WeWork’s steep valuation, arguing its business model of securing long-term leases on office buildings and making short-term rentals to tenants is unsustainable.
Many of these sceptics believe the company may never turn a profit. Its nearest publicly traded peer — London-listed IWG, formerly known as Regus — has a market value of £3.1bn.
Losses at the company have swelled as WeWork has expanded across the globe. Last year, its losses more than doubled from 2017 to $1.9bn, while revenues climbed to $1.82bn. In March, WeWork reported a drop in occupancy levels as it took on new leases to grow the rolls of companies who rent out its industrial-chic co-working spaces.
WeWork has pursued breakneck growth since it was founded in 2010 to become the largest office tenant in London and New York. The company was operating in 100 cities with 425 locations by the end of 2018 and spent $2.5bn expanding its global operations last year.
The expansion has been fuelled by cash from a list of well-known investors and creditors, including SoftBank, JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs.
The filing comes in busy year for American IPOs. A marketing blitz for shares of Uber, the ride-hailing company, is under way for an offering that could raise as much as $9bn for Uber and value it at up to $91.5bn.
Additional reporting by Nicole Bullock in New York
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