Exclusive: WeWork to host Wall Street analyst day in IPO push - sources

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The We Company, parent of shared office space manager WeWork, plans to host an analyst day for Wall Street banks on July 31, as the company steps up its preparations for an initial public offering (IPO), people familiar with the matter said.

WeWork’s decision to host the event at this stage is unusual, given that IPO hopefuls have typically hired underwriters by the time they invite analysts from Wall Street banks to educate them about their company’s business.

While WeWork filed for an IPO with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in December, it has yet to hire IPO underwriters, the sources said. WeWork wants to be in a position to potentially go public by the end of 2019, the sources added.

The hosting of the event at this early stage indicates that the New York-based start-up wants to leave nothing to chance after other high-profile IPOs struggled or were canceled this year, amid pushback from investors over the frothy valuations sought.

The sources asked not to be identified because the matter is confidential. A spokesman for WeWork declined to comment.

The IPO market has been challenging for some of this year's biggest listings. Ride-hailing companies Uber Technologies Inc UBER.N and Lyft Inc LYFT.O faced criticism from investors about their steep losses and the lack of commitment to a timetable to reach profitability.

Last week, Anheuser Busch InBev NV ABI.BR, the world's largest brewer, shelved the initial public offering (IPO) of its Asian business after it could not muster enough investor support for the valuation it sought.

WeWork was recently valued at $47 billion in a private fundraising round, making it one of the most valuable private companies in the world.

However, the money-losing company has faced questions about the sustainability of its business model, which is based on short-term revenue agreements and long-term loan liabilities.

The losses at WeWork’s parent company narrowed slightly in the first quarter of 2019 to $264 million as revenue continues to double annually.

WeWork is looking to raise $3 billion to $4 billion in debt before it goes public, and has held discussions with representatives of Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase & Co to discuss the debt offering, Reuters reported earlier this month.

A substantial debt offering could allow it to pitch itself to potential investors in a planned IPO as having sufficient funding to see itself to profitability.

WeWork, which was co-founded in 2010 by CEO Adam Neumann, has helped pioneer “coworking,” or shared desk-space, with a focus on startups, entrepreneurs and freelancers.

In January, Japan’s SoftBank boosted its stake in WeWork by $2 billion in a deal that was billions of dollars below what the company had hoped to raise to fund growth and buy out existing shareholders.

Reporting by Joshua Franklin in New York; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Christopher Cushing