Sale of WeWork Waterloo to Singapore's Bright Ruby stalls: Sources

The WeWork logo seen at a co-working space in New York, on Sept 13, 2019.
The WeWork logo seen at a co-working space in New York, on Sept 13, 2019.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

LONDON (BLOOMBERG) - Deals for two major London buildings leased mostly to WeWork are on the ropes.

Saudi Arabia-based Sidra Capital has pulled out of a £90 million (S$154.3 million) deal as the flexible-office giant's planned initial public offering got an increasingly rocky reception from investors, according to people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified discussing private negotiations.

Separately, talks have stalled on the sale of WeWork Waterloo, which the company describes as the largest co-working facility in the world, according to other people with knowledge of the negotiations. Singapore-based commodity trader Bright Ruby Resources Pte Ltd had agreed last month to buy it and an adjoining property leased to Royal Dutch Shell plc for about £850 million. It's not clear what impact WeWork's roller-coaster IPO has had on Bright Ruby's appetite for the deal, the people said.

We Co, which owns WeWork, pushed back its IPO this week to buy time to overcome concerns about its governance, slashed valuation and business prospects. The decision sent the company's bonds plunging and added a sour note to a medley of high-profile, but frequently disappointing, IPOs this year. Shortly after the announcement, WeWork made a small round of job cuts in a New York City unit.

The delay also comes at a critical time for major backer SoftBank Group Corp, which is trying to raise money for a successor to its Vision Fund. SoftBank's biggest investors, including Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, are reconsidering how much to commit to the new vehicle as the Japanese conglomerate's bet on WeWork sours.

WeWork has lease obligations of US$47 billion and continues to burn cash to fund its rapid expansion, putting pressure on the company to raise new capital. But the company's model of signing long leases, then renting out short-term space to members, as well as its complex relationship with co-founder Adam Neumann, have polarised investors assessing the planned offering.

WeWork Waterloo, originally known as Two Southbank Place, is fully leased to WeWork and boasts a skate ramp, retro arcade games and a library in its cavernous lobby. Negotiations on a sale, which were first reported by React News in August, are ongoing and there's no certainty about their outcome, one of the people said.

Representatives of Almacantar SA, the developer selling the buildings in London's Waterloo district, and WeWork declined to comment. A representative for Bright Ruby wasn't immediately able to comment.

Sidra Capital was in talks to buy 70 Wilson Street near London's financial district from a venture led by Columbia Threadneedle Investments, the people said.

Representatives of Sidra Capital, Columbia Threadneedle and WeWork declined to comment.