WeWork takes SPAC route to go public in $9b deal

WeWork, the once-high flying office-sharing start-up that fell from grace during a revealing IPO process back in 2019, is finally going to make its stock market debut but not through the traditional IPO route.

It will now merge with blank-check firm BowX Acquisition Corp, in a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, merger that's been all the rage on Wall Street lately.

A SPAC is a shell firm that uses proceeds from a public listing to buy a private firm like WeWork. When the two merge the private company then assumes the stock trading of the SPAC.

Tapping the stock market through a SPAC requires less regulatory oversight and investor scrutiny than a traditional IPO.

In the deal announced Friday, WeWork is valued at $9 billion. That's a huge drop from the $47 billion valuation during its botched 2019 IPO. The original stock market listing was scrapped amid widespread concerns about WeWork's business model and the management style of its founder Adam Neumann.WeWork eventually had to be rescued by major shareholder SoftBank.

The market debut for WeWork will come at a time of uncertainty regarding the future of office work, as economies open up, people are vaccinated, and employers figure out how many workers need to - or want to - return to the office after working from home during the health crisis.

WeWork told possible merger partners that it lost about $3.2 billion last year, sources familiar with talks told Reuters earlier this week.