WeWork's ill-fated IPO shows market discipline: Oaktree's Marks

TOKYO (Reuters) - WeWork’s failure to go public and this year’s disappointing tech IPOs in the United States are a positive sign of market discipline and investor vigilance, Oaktree Capital’s [OAKCP.UL] billionaire co-chairman Howard Marks said.

FILE PHOTO: A WeWork logo is seen at a WeWork office in San Francisco, California, U.S. September 30, 2019. REUTERS/Kate Munsch - RC1962504960/File Photo

WeWork abandoned plans for an initial public offering on Sept. 30 as investors questioned the office-sharing startup’s growing losses, its business model and corporate governance.

It followed some high profile U.S. IPO flops including that of Uber UBER.N and Lyft LYFT.O and Peloton PTON.O.

“I think it was a success for the market. This is a positive sign that the market is behaving as it should,” the 73-year-old veteran investor told Reuters on Wednesday.

He, however, said he didn’t think markets were in a bubble.

“This is a low return world. Asset prices are high but not absurd. Too much money chasing too few deals,” he said.

“I don’t think we’re in a bubble. I don’t think the conditions today are extreme or crazy... I don’t think we have to have a meltdown or a crash.”

Marks, known in investment circles for his memos to clients, which he has been writing since the 1990s, said Oaktree’s portfolio currently takes a “moving forward with caution” approach. He added that the asset manager was trying to be fully invested every day but with caution.

The distressed debt guru singled out China for bargains, adding that some of the Latin American countries that have gone through political or economic difficulties were also attractive.

“There is hesitation to invest in China and the rest of the emerging markets. In my experience, which now spans 50 years, you make big money when you do things that other people don’t want to do.”

The Los Angeles-headquartered global alternative asset management company manages $122 billion with a focus on distressed debt and credit opportunities, real estate and private equity.

(This story has been refiled to fix typo in paragraph 9)

Reporting by Tomo Uetake; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise