Adam Neumann once bragged he wanted to become the world’s first trillionaire. Now he’s barely a billionaire.
SoftBank Group Corp.’s proposed rescue package of WeWork involves Neumann selling about US$1 billion of stock and getting a US$185 million consulting fee from the Japanese firm even as the deal values the struggling office-sharing company at US$8 billion, according to people familiar with the deal. That’s down from an estimated US$47 billion at the start of the year. He will leave the company’s board though he still can assign two seats.
On these terms, Neumann’s net worth would be at least US$1 billion, according to calculations by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. While that’s a fraction of what it was on paper in January — the last time SoftBank made an investment in WeWork — it’s a remarkable return from a business that has never made a profit and seen its initial public offering spurned by skeptical investors.
A spokeswoman for Neumann declined to comment.
WeWork parent We Co.’s withdrawn prospectus sketched out ways Neumann has already monetized some of his stake. He sold hundreds of millions of dollars of stock in earlier funding rounds, according to the Wall Street Journal. He also has a US$500 million credit line — secured by WeWork shares — from UBS Group AG, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Credit Suisse Group AG. About US$380 million was outstanding as of July 31. JPMorgan also loaned him US$97.5 million.
That helped Neumann, 40, collect assets worthy of a billionaire at a time when most of his net worth was on paper. Over the years he bought about US$100 million of properties, including a Manhattan townhouse, a Westchester County farm and an 11-acre California estate. He also owns 10 commercial properties, four of which are leased to WeWork.
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The company’s struggles had raised questions about whether Neumann would need to pledge additional shares to secure his borrowings and how he would repay the bank loans. The credit line is scheduled to mature next September, although it may be extended at the discretion of the lenders, according to the prospectus.
The SoftBank deal, which also extends US$500 million of credit to Neumann, would give him plenty of resources to clear his debts.
WeWork had previously amassed more than US$10 billion in commitments from SoftBank, the Japanese technology and communications conglomerate led by Masayoshi Son, and appeared to be headed for a rich public offering this summer. But public investors soured on WeWork, which lost US$900 million in the first half of the year. As its estimated valuation plummeted, the company ousted Neumann as CEO and ultimately pulled the IPO paperwork.