WeWork office giant plans US share listing

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Shared office provider WeWork has filed paperwork to enable it to list its shares on the US stock market as it seeks further funds for expansion.

The firm offers shared office space and services, allowing clients to shrink or grow their number of desks for the period they need them for.

Founded in the US in 2010, WeWork is already London and New York’s largest private office occupier.

But it has yet to make a profit, with losses last year doubling to $1.9bn.

“After a lot of thought, last week we decided to file the first amendment to our submission, which is a step towards allowing us to decide to become a public company,” chief executive Adam Neumann wrote in a letter to staff.

The firm’s business model is based on short-term revenue agreements and long-term loan liabilities.

Ratings agencies have given it a “junk” or risky credit score because it has borrowed heavily to fund its expansion.

Despite this, the firm – which operates in 600 cities globally – was valued at some $47bn by private investors when it raised fresh funding in January.

The flexibility of WeWork’s business model has proved popular with small employers and workers who enjoy the modern collaborative feel of a shared office, as well as larger employers who are not forced to sign long leases on expensive, bespoke, trophy buildings.

Perks such as free beer for tenants of WeWork offices in New York proved so popular that the company was forced to impose a four pint limit per person after reports of inappropriate behaviour.

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Several US start-ups have rushed to list their shares recently

The New York firm said it had filed its registration for the public stock market listing confidentially in December.

The confidential filing allows firms to kickstart the listing process before providing key information about their finances.

“This process will enable WeWork to make the decision to become publicly traded, subject to market and other conditions,” it said.

The firm provided no information on how much money it would seek to raise, its valuation or the timing of its offering.

The plan to sell shares comes after Japanese tech giant SoftBank invested $2bn in the company in January, well below the $16bn WeWork was reported to have been seeking.

WeWork’s plan comes amid a rush of share listings from similar start-up firms including ride-hailing app Uber and other tech firms including online scrapbook company Pinterest.

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