WeWork, hit by restructuring charges, reports quarterly loss of $2.7b ahead of public listing

Work-from-home arrangements last year weighed heavily on WeWork by reducing occupancy and increasing operating costs. PHOTO: REUTERS

BENGALURU (REUTERS) - SoftBank-backed office-sharing start-up WeWork on Thursday (May 20) reported a first-quarter net loss of US$2.06 billion (S$2.74 billion), as it was hit by restructuring charges while it prepares to go public through a merger with a blank-cheque firm.

WeWork said its business was recovering as more people returned to offices due to the easing of Covid-19 curbs, after work-from-home arrangements last year weighed heavily on the company by reducing occupancy and increasing operating costs.

Total occupancy ticked up to 50 per cent in the first quarter compared with 47 per cent in the fourth quarter, the company said.

WeWork in March agreed to go public through a merger with BowX Acquisition, a special purpose acquisition company, in a deal that valued it at US$9 billion. SoftBank Group said it would retain a majority stake in the firm after the merger.

WeWork, whose attempt at an initial public offering in 2019 spectacularly imploded due to investor concerns over its business model and co-founder Adam Neumann's management style, said first-quarter revenue nearly halved to US$598 million from a year ago.

The company said it had 490,000 members in the first quarter, compared with 693,000 in March last year.

WeWork said it incurred restructuring costs of US$494 million, driven by non-cash SoftBank stock purchases and a settlement with Mr Neumann.

It posted an impairment charge of US$299 million, partly due to an exit out of some real estate.

SoftBank and Mr Neumann, WeWork's former chief executive, reached a settlement in February ending a legal battle that started in 2019 when SoftBank agreed to buy around US$3 billion in WeWork stock belonging to Mr Neumann and other employees, but later contested its obligation to purchase the shares.

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