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SoftBank turns against WeWork's parent CEO Neumann

New York

JAPAN'S SoftBank Group Corp, the biggest investor in WeWork owner The We Company, is exploring ways to replace Adam Neumann as chief executive of the US office-sharing startup, four people familiar with the matter said on Sunday.

The rare showdown between SoftBank and one of its biggest investments comes after We Company postponed its initial public offering (IPO) last week, following pushback from perspective investors, not just over its widening losses, but also over Mr Neumann's unusually firm grip on the company.

This was a blow for SoftBank, which was hoping for We Company's IPO to bolster its profits as it seeks to woo investors for its second US$108 billion Vision Fund.

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It invested in We Company at a US$47 billion valuation in January, yet stock market investor scepticism led to the startup considering a potential valuation in the IPO earlier this month of as low as US$10 billion, Reuters reported.

Directors on We Company's seven-member board that are aligned with SoftBank are deliberating how to replace Mr Neumann as CEO, the sources said. Benchmark Capital, another big investor in We Company, would also like Mr Neumann to step aside, one of the sources said.

No challenge to Mr Neumann has yet been tabled, the sources said. A We Company board meeting to discuss Mr Neumann's future could be held as early as this week, another of the sources said. REUTERS