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SoftBanks $9.5 billion bailout of WeWork hits a hurdle as Japanese banks are worried about funding it

Masayoshi Son SoftBank Koki Nagahama/Getty Images

  • SoftBank’s $9.5 billion bailout of WeWork has hit a hurdle.
  • The Japanese tech conglomerate wants to partly finance the rescue deal by borrowing $3 billion from Japan’s three biggest banks, but the trio have reached their internal lending limits to the company, according to Reuters.
  • Mizuho, Mitsubishi UFJ, and Sumitomo Mitsui are exploring ways to make the loans while mitigating their exposure, including the use of SoftBank’s 26% stake in Alibaba as collateral, two sources told Reuters.
  • View Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.


SoftBank’s $9.5 billion bailout of WeWork has hit a hurdle. The Japanese tech conglomerate wants to partly finance the rescue deal by borrowing $3 billion from Japan’s three biggest banks, but the trio have reached their internal lending limits to the company, according to Reuters.

Mizuho, Mitsubishi UFJ, and Sumitomo Mitsui are exploring ways to make the loans while mitigating their exposure, two sources told Reuters. One option could be to use SoftBank’s 26% stake in Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba — worth close to $150 billion — as collateral, they said.

“SoftBank is an important client so we want to do everything we can to help, but we have to consider our credit risk,” one senior bank executive told Reuters.

If the trio of banks lend the full $3 billion to SoftBank, their total loans to the firm and its $100 billion Vision Fund would exceed $15 billion, according to The Japan Times.

One executive told The Japan Times last month that his bank wanted to see a compelling turnaround plan for WeWork before it opened its wallet to SoftBank again. A rival said his bank was being cautious and had grown skeptical of SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son’s big bets on high-valued startups.

The stalled talks with domestic banks led SoftBank to secure a $1.75 billion line of credit from Goldman Sachs, Reuters reported.

WeWork’s rescue package — which includes $5 billion of debt financing, the acceleration of a previously agreed $1.5 billion equity investment, and a $3 billion tender offer — isn’t in immediate danger, given SoftBank had $19 billion in cash at the end of September.

However, SoftBank’s biggest lenders are wary for a reason. The firm reported a $6.4 billion net loss — its first quarterly loss in 14 years — in the three months through September, after it wrote down the value of its investments in WeWork and Uber.

SoftBank agreed to bail out WeWork in October in a bid to salvage its $10 billion-plus investment in the company.

WeWork scrapped its initial public offering after investors balked at its losses and the behavior of its cofounder and then CEO, Adam Neumann. It faced the prospect of going public at a $20 billion valuation — a fraction of its private valuation of $47 billion in January — and failing to raise the $3 billion it needed to unlock $6 billion in bank financing.

Running short of cash, it accepted SoftBank’s rescue deal, which is set to raise its biggest backer’s stake in the business to 80%. 

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