The special committee of the WeWork board of directors on Sunday said that it is “committed to take all necessary actions” if SoftBank doesn’t live up its end of the bargain in the bailout deal signed October of last year.
“Not only is SoftBank obligated to consummate the tender offer as detailed by the Master Transaction Agreement, but its excuses for not trying to close are inappropriate and dishonest,” the committee, which comprises Benchmark general partner Bruce Dunlevie and former Coach CEO Lew Frankfort, said in a statement, as reported by CNBC.
The committee added that it would be “completely unethical” for SoftBank to go back on its words in light of the “current environment,” likely referring to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
SoftBank responded to the committee’s allegations saying that it is the “other parties” to the agreement that have failed to live up to the “closing conditions” agreed to at the time.
“SoftBank has informed stockholders that all of the agreed upon closing conditions must be satisfied before the tender offer can be completed. As of now, they are not,” the investment giant said in a statement, according to CNBC.
The Tokyo-based venture capital firm further highlighted that it had provided the promised $5 billion working capital to the co-working space startup since October.
“The main beneficiaries of the tender are Adam Neumann, large institutional investors, and some prior officers of the company,” SoftBank said. “Current WeWork employees have already benefited greatly from the repricing of their options in an earlier phase of the tender offer and would receive less than [10%] of the proceeds in the tender offer.”
SoftBank had acquired an 80% stake in WeWork in October in a $9.5 billion rescue deal after the latter’s IPO plans fell through.
Founder and former CEO Neumann had to sever most of his ties with the company but would get $1.7 billion as part of the agreement.
SoftBank chairman Masayoshi Son later said that he regretted making the investment, adding that he shut his eyes to a lot of negative aspects of Neumann’s leadership.
WeWork is facing increased financial pressure due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The tenants at its co-working spaces have reduced due to social distancing requirements, but the company has to pay rent on a host of properties it rents on a long-term basis.
SoftBank’s shares closed 2.15% higher at $13.07 in the OTC market on Friday.
The company’s shares traded 18.6% higher at $28.95 per share in Tokyo at press time on Monday.
[On Monday, S&P downgraded WeWork to “CCC+” on what it said was mounting cash flow and liquidity pressures. “Business disruption related to the global recession, a rush to remote working and uncertainty around the extent of self-quarantine precautions could weigh heavily on WeWork’s business viability, encouraging a drop in total occupancy levels, an increase in operating costs, and pressure on the company’s ability to fill recently opened locations,” the note from S&P Global Ratings read.
This story originally appeared on Benzinga.
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