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Report: Japan's SoftBank planning $16B investment in WeWork

The Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, or PIF, and Abu Dhabi's Mubadala Investment Co. expressed concerns over SoftBank Group Corp.'s planned $16 billion investment in coworking startup WeWork Cos. Inc., The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people with knowledge of the matter.

The government-backed funds contributed the majority of the approximately $100 billion raised by the SoftBank Vision Fund, which is already a major investor in WeWork.

The purported new WeWork investment deal, which is expected to be announced in early 2019 and would value the company at approximately $36 billion, would include $10 billion from SoftBank to buy out most existing WeWork shareholders and a further $6 billion in new capital for WeWork over the next three years, the unnamed sources told the publication.

The transaction would reportedly leave WeWork CEO Adam Neumann with control of the company. The new investment would bring SoftBank and its affiliates' total investment in WeWork to more than $24 billion.

Citing the sources, the Journal added that WeWork is expected to lose approximately $2 billion in 2018, and that PIF and Mubadala have questioned WeWork's business model, which could leave it exposed if the economy turns. The funds have instead advised SoftBank executives that they would prefer that the SoftBank Vision Fund focus on technology investments.

According to the report, SoftBank expects that the sovereign funds would allow the SoftBank Vision Fund to pay for some of the deal and that it is exploring other ways to finance the deal.

Separately, Bloomberg News reported, citing anonymous sources, that WeWork is raising a separate real estate investment fund, called ARK, to acquire its own sites.

WeWork did not comment on the ARK fund, the publication added.