WeWork to invest $500 million to expand in Southeast Asia, South Korea

FILE PHOTO: A mug bears the name of WeWork is seen at its flagship location in Hong Kong, China February 23, 2017. REUTERS/Bobby Yip/File Photo

HONG KONG (Reuters) - New York-based startup WeWork on Monday said it will invest $500 million in Southeast Asia and South Korea in its latest effort to tap growing demand for shared office space in Asia.

The firm, which provides workspace for users as varied as freelancers, entrepreneurs and corporations, said it will buy Singaporean peer Spacemob for an undisclosed amount, and that it will retain Spacemob’s management team.

WeWork named Turochas “T” Fuad, who founded Spacemob early last year, as its managing director for Southeast Asia. It also appointed Matt Shampine, currently WeWork’s head of marketing and revenue for Asia, as general manager for Korea.

It did not elaborate on its investment in Korea.

The announcement comes less than two weeks after WeWork set up a Chinese unit with the help of a $500 million injection from China’s Hony Capital and Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp to expand beyond current locations of Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong.

That followed the establishment earlier in July of a joint venture with SoftBank in Japan which aims to open its first workspace-sharing location in Tokyo next year.

WeWork could announce more local units soon, founder and Chief Executive Officer Adam Neumann told Reuters in a July interview. Having separate local entities in different countries gives WeWork the flexibility to take some of those units public, while keeping others under the parent, he said.

WeWork operates over 155 properties in 16 markets including the United States, its biggest market, Canada and Germany.

Reporting by Julie Zhu; Editing by Christopher Cushing