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The Japanese conglomerate pointed to WeWork’s failure to receive antitrust approvals by April 1; the “multiple, new, and significant pending criminal and civil investigations” into WeWork; and the impact of COVID-19 on the business as reasons for withdrawing from the agreement, which was signed in October.
“The tender offer was an offer to buy shares directly from other major stockholders and its termination has no impact on WeWork’s operations or customers,” SoftBank SVP and chief legal officer Rob Townsend said in a statement. “The tender offer closing was conditioned on the satisfaction of certain closing conditions the parties agreed to in October of last year for SoftBank’s protection. Several of those conditions were not met, leaving SoftBank no choice but to terminate the tender offer.”
SoftBank acknowledged in the statement Thursday that ousted CEO Adam Neumann, his family and Benchmark Capital were among those who would have benefited the most from the tender offer.
SoftBank and the SoftBank Vision Fund have invested more than $14.25 billion in WeWork. By withdrawing from the tender offer agreement, SoftBank will no longer provide WeWork with $1.1 billion in debt financing.
The $3 billion tender offer came as part of SoftBank’s plan to save WeWork after the startup’s IPO flop in the fall. WeWork needed money, and fast. In October 2019, SoftBank accelerated $1.5 billion in equity capital, in December the bank made up to $2.2 billion in debt financing available to WeWork, and in February 2020 SoftBank gave WeWork credit support for a $1.75 billion letter of credit facility provided by Goldman Sachs and others, according to a statement from SoftBank.
WeWork declined to comment on SoftBank’s announcement. However, Reuters reported that a special committee of WeWork’s board was disappointed and is weighing “all of its legal options, including litigation.”
According to a March 26 letter to investors obtained by Crunchbase News, WeWork said it had $4.4 billion in cash as of Dec. 31, 2019, and that the company believed it had the financial resources and liquidity to carry out its plan through 2024, including facing the challenges created by COVID-19.
Illustration Credit: Li-Anne Dias