SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son (L) and WeWork founder Adam Neumann.
SoftBank already owns one-third of WeWork, but is aiming to invest several billion dollars in additional equity and debt in the company, sources told The Journal. The potential deal would shift Neumann’s already diminished voting power to the Japanese conglomerate, according to the Journal. This would give give SoftBank a bigger role in turning around the company’s operations.
The situation is fluid and there’s no guarantee that a deal will be reached.
Neumann announced last month that he was stepping down as CEO after the company delayed its initial public offering amid an uproar over its governance and valuation. A source told CNBC at the time that Neumann was also giving up majority control by agreeing to a reduction of his voting power from 10:1 to 3:1. He was the company’s largest individual stakeholder with about 115 million shares.
SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son, who invested billions of dollars in WeWork, led the charge to remove Neumann as CEO, people familiar with Son’s thinking told CNBC at the time.
SoftBank had invested $2 billion in WeWork at a valuation of $47 billion in January. WeWork’s aborted IPO would have forced SoftBank to write down its investment, with operating profit taking a 15% hit if the public offering had been valued at $20 billion, according to analysts at research firm Bernstein.
— CNBC’s Alex Sherman and Laura Feiner contributed to this report
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