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Unpredictable WeWork Picks Nasdaq at Eleventh Hour for IPO

Crystal Tse, Lananh Nguyen and Gillian Tan

(Bloomberg) -- It wasn’t until late Thursday that the call Nasdaq executives were waiting for finally came through.

WeWork’s Adam Neumann had picked Nasdaq over the more vaunted New York Stock Exchange for his hipster office company’s listing.

With WeWork’s roadshow slated to kick off as early as next week, the decision had come down to the wire.

Typically, an exchange might get a week or more to prepare before companies hit the road to market their initial public offering. The Nasdaq and NYSE, though, were in the dark as WeWork’s listing plans waxed and waned amid investor concerns over the company’s valuation and governance.

WeWork’s proposed IPO, which has been undergoing big changes in recent days, hasn’t exactly gone by the book from the start.

The win for Nasdaq is also less sweet than it would have been six months ago, when WeWork was still touting a $47 billion valuation in the private markets.

WeWork’s valuation, could be as low as $12 billion in the IPO, people familiar with the matter have said.

Dual Applications

WeWork had applied to Nasdaq and the NYSE, according to people familiar with the matter. The company viewed both as potential clients and had developed relationships with both companies, complicating the choice for Chief Executive Officer Neumann, said one of the people, who asked to not be identified because the discussions were private.

Representatives for Nasdaq and WeWork declined to comment. An NYSE representative didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Nasdaq and NYSE, which is owned by Intercontinental Exchange Inc., had been courting the 10-year-old company for more than a year.

WeWork executives Neumann and Chief Financial Officer Artie Minson each attended a trading session kick-off as the headlined guest at both exchanges last year, press releases and video clips showed.

Facebook Fallout

In recent years, it has been an uphill battle for Nasdaq to rebuild its reputation as the listing venue of choice for high-profile tech companies after it botched the Facebook Inc. IPO in 2012. Since then, Nasdaq has tended to lose out on the biggest technology IPOs, including Uber Technologies Inc., the largest IPO of 2019, which raised $8.1 billion.

If WeWork’s IPO goes as planned, Nasdaq could be the home to two more marquee IPOs in the last week of September. Fitness cycling startup Peloton Interactive Inc., which is set to price its shares Sept. 25, is looking to raise $1.16 billion at a valuation of more than $8 billion.

The exchanges are still at a dead-even split in terms of volume, with $41.56 billion raised in U.S. IPOs this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The NYSE, with 29 of the listings, still tends to get the larger offerings, while Nasdaq handled 102 IPOs.

Overall, the newly public companies listed on NYSE are trading 2.7% above their offer prices, the data shows. Those on the Nasdaq are up 22.6% on an average-weighted basis.

--With assistance from Nabila Ahmed.

To contact the reporters on this story: Crystal Tse in New York at ctse44@bloomberg.net;Lananh Nguyen in New York at lnguyen35@bloomberg.net;Gillian Tan in New York at gtan129@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Liana Baker at lbaker75@bloomberg.net, Michael Hytha

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