SoftBank's Bookkeeping Under Fire After WeWork
SoftBank Group Corp. tapped Goldman Sachs Group Inc. for new financing to help revive one of its biggest bets — an investment in office-sharing company WeWork.
Goldman is arranging a US$1.75-billion line of credit, the first step in SoftBank’s pledge to put together US$5 billion in debt financing for WeWork as part of its bailout package, according to people with knowledge of the matter. In a twist aimed at making the financing more palatable to other lenders, SoftBank will be listed as the borrower and WeWork will be a co-borrower, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information isn’t public.
The Wall Street firm has reached out to other banks to gauge their interest in participating in the facility, structured as letters of credit, with the goal of putting it in place before the end of the year, the people said. The new credit line will replace existing facilities that total about $1.1 billion, and is designed to free up cash that’s being used as collateral in the existing letters of credit.
Representatives for SoftBank, Goldman and WeWork, a unit of the We Co., declined to comment on the financing plan.
Once the facility is in place, a US$3.3 billion debt package will be arranged to complete the SoftBank plan, one of the people said. It’s not yet clear which banks will lead the second part of the debt financing. SoftBank has previously said the US$3.3 billion will include US$1.1 billion of senior secured notes and US$2.2 billion in unsecured notes.
WeWork secured a US$9.5-billion rescue package from SoftBank in October, a deal that will hand 80 per cent of the company to the Japanese conglomerate after a tumultuous few months that saw WeWork turn from one of the most valuable startups to a cautionary tale.
The deal with SoftBank included an acceleration of a US$1.5 billion existing commitment from Masayoshi Son’s firm and a plan to buy as much as $3 billion from existing shareholders in a tender offer, which is under way.
--With assistance from Davide Scigliuzzo.