WeWork Will Go Public in a Merger With a SPAC

After a failed initial public offering and the near implosion of its business in 2019, WeWork said Friday that it had agreed to a deal that would take the beleaguered co-working company onto the stock market.

Instead of a traditional I.P.O., WeWork is merging with BowX Acquisition, a special purpose acquisition company, in a type of deal that has become hugely popular in recent months.

BowX is backed by Bow Capital, an investment firm that counts the National Basketball Association star Shaquille O’Neal as an adviser.

WeWork leases office space and then effectively sublets it to its members, which include individuals, start-ups and large corporations. Its heady expansion was fueled by SoftBank, the Japanese conglomerate that became WeWork’s largest shareholder and rescued the company in 2019 just as it was about to run out of cash.

nearly $50 billion value that its investors placed on the company in 2019. WeWork will receive $1.3 billion in cash from the deal, including $800 million from Insight Partners, Starwood Capital Group, BlackRock and other investors.

The pandemic emptied WeWork’s offices, and it is not clear how much demand there will be for its office space in the future. Many people have become used to working from home and some large employers like Target and Dropbox have said they plan to give up big chunks of their office space because they expect fewer employees to come in daily. Other businesses like the retailer R.E.I. sold its headquarters all together. WeWork said Friday that memberships fell to 476,000 last year, from 619,000 in 2019.

Still, BowX’s chief executive, Vivek Ranadivé, told CNBC in an interview Friday that the pandemic would be a “tailwind” for the office-sharing company.

“Companies have now decided that flex space is the must-have,” said Mr. Ranadivé, a technology entrepreneur who owns the Sacramento Kings basketball team. “Maybe for their own headquarters they want to own that space. But for everything else, they want to hand it over to a WeWork.”

WeWork said it had lowered its costs since its failed public offering. The company is expecting revenue to surge in the coming years. It also offered a bullish forecast of earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, an often flattering measurement of cash flows, but did not say what its profit might be. In the past, it has struggled to meet lofty projections. And it must try to draw tenants at a time when the office markets in New York, London, San Francisco and other big cities are awash with cheap sublet space.

Adam Neumann, a co-founder of WeWork, and SoftBank settled a legal dispute. WeWork had called off its I.P.O. in 2019 after investors balked at its losses and criticized its governance practices.

SoftBank has been eager to take WeWork public via a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, a route to Wall Street that has become increasingly popular in recent months because it is faster than a conventional public offering. As of Wednesday, 295 SPACs had gone public in 2021, raising $93 billion and breaking last year’s record in a matter of months.

SoftBank poured billions of dollars into WeWork after Masayoshi Son, SoftBank’s chief executive, bought into Mr. Neumann’s ambitious vision, which included building schools and serviced apartments in addition to leasing office space. In total, SoftBank has backed WeWork to the tune of nearly $16 billion, counting investments in the company, loans and payments to existing shareholders. After WeWork goes public, SoftBank will be able to sell its stake or keep it in the hope that it goes up in value.

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Goldman Sachs Partners’ Exits Point to a Changing Culture at the Bank

Late in March, Gregg Lemkau, the longtime co-head of investment banking and an executive who was widely considered a potential Goldman C.E.O., sent a Twitter post about getting up during the wee hours to work remotely from his home in Hawaii, which is six hours behind New York.

He soon got a call from Mr. Solomon, who was not pleased with the perception of the message, say three people with knowledge of the call. The two executives argued, those people said, over whether Mr. Lemkau should return to New York. They settled their differences and Mr. Lemkau stayed put for two months before flying back. In mid-November, Mr. Lemkau, then 51, announced plans to retire from Goldman to become chief executive of the family investment office of Michael Dell, the billionaire founder of the computer company.

“The reaction was overwhelming,” said Mr. Lemkau in a podcast weeks later. The memories colleagues shared, he said, underscored how his treatment of other people had defined him. “Not the big deals I did, not anything formal I did, but the little things that you did that made a difference in their lives,” he reflected, “it sort of makes you feel like, ‘Damn, I’m glad it was worth doing all that stuff.’”

Mr. Lemkau has told people privately that his departure had nothing to do with his tiff with Mr. Solomon.

The exodus picked up steam this year. Last month, Michael Daffey, who had led the global markets division, retired.

Then, this week, Eric S. Lane, co-head of the firm’s asset-management business and also viewed as a contender for the Goldman C.E.O. role, took a senior role at a large hedge fund. Karen Patton Seymour, the firm’s general counsel since 2019, also left, and plans to return to her former law firm, according to internal emails. All were members of the management committee, and all but Ms. Seymour had long tenures at the firm. Around the same time, Omer Ismail, head of Goldman’s Marcus consumer business, left to run a new financial-technology venture that has been seeded by Walmart, taking a deputy who had overseen the firm’s Apple credit card partnership along with him.

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