WeWork CEO Adam NeumannJackal Pan/Visual China Group via Getty Images
- WeWork, in its public offering documents, disclosed a slew of related-party transactions involving CEO Adam Neumann, his wife, and various family members.
- But the company didn’t disclose a collection of deals involving the family members of other company officials, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.
- The deals the Journal reported involved family members of Michael Gross, WeWork’s vice chair; Arash Gohari, its co-head of real estate; and Granit Gjonbalaj, its chief real estate development officer.
- WeWork is facing pushback among investors over its planned IPO in part over concerns about such transactions and its broader corporate governance.
- Read all of Business Insider’s WeWork coverage here.
WeWork’s recently filed public offering paperwork raised eyebrows with its list of numerous deals the company has been a party to that involve the family members of CEO Adam Neumann and his wife, Rebekah.
As bad as those related-party transactions looked to many corporate governance experts, they weren’t all-inclusive. The document left out a collection of transactions involving the family members of other employees, including the parents of Vice Chair Michael Gross, according to a new report in The Wall Street Journal.
WeWork spokeswoman Erin Clark declined to comment on the report.
The Journal’s report details some instances of such so-called related-party transactions, some of which had been previously reported.
WeWork hired Gross’ parents to serve as its real-estate brokers for a lease it was negotiating in Miami, The Journal reported, citing unnamed sources familiar with the deal. The company also leased space in Miami at a building partially owned by the brother of Arash Gohari, its co-head of real estate, according to the report.
Additionally, the commercial real-estate company was involved in a series of transactions with the brothers of Granit Gjonbalaj, its chief real estate development officer, according to the Journal. WeWork hired Gjonbalaj from UA Builders, a New York contracting company that had overseen the build out of some of WeWork’s early office spaces. Even after hiring Gjonbalaj, WeWork continued to extensively work with UA Builders, which was then run by his brothers, Albert and Jimmy, according to the report.
WeWork has a web of related-party transactions
Gjonbalaj told people at WeWork that he had divested his stake in UA Builders and recused himself from any dealings with the firm, the Journal reported. But the people who interacted with UA Builders still reported to him, a situation that made many feel “uncomfortable,” according to the report.
WeWork hired Albert and Jimmy Gjonbalaj last year to set up its own internal contracting operation, according to the Journal. After hiring them, WeWork continued to do business with other firms they owned, including a plumbing company, according to the report. WeWork ended those contracts last year, and Albert and Jimmy Gjonbalaj left the co-working startup earlier this year, the Journal reported. Their brother, Granit Gjonbalaj, remains at WeWork.
It’s unclear whether WeWork had an obligation to report the transactions in its IPO paperwork. Standard accounting rules require companies to disclose related party transactions involving not just the principal owners of a company, but also its management and their family members. However, companies may be able to exclude such transactions from their reports if they aren’t material to their businesses.
In its filing, WeWork did disclose a series of transactions involving Neumann and his family members. The company has leased space in buildings Neumann partly owns. It purchased the trademark on the name “We” from him for $5.9 million. And it loaned him hundreds of millions of dollars.
Earlier this week, WeWork said Neumann had given the $5.9 million he was paid for the trademark back to the company.
The Journal’s report comes as WeWork is facing significant pushback on its planned IPO from potential investors. Other reports this week indicate it’s considering debuting on the public markets with a market capitalization of as little as $20 billion, or less than half its last private valuation.
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- Read more about WeWork’s planned IPO:
- WeWork says it has a $3 trillion market opportunity and has signed up only 0.2% of its potential customers. Here’s why real-estate experts say those numbers don’t add up.
- WeWork gave out 58 stock awards worth at least $1 million each in February, and 94% of them went to men, according to a lawsuit
- Why WeWork’s $47 billion private valuation could be a key stumbling block for its IPO — and might even derail it completely
- 2 big numbers — $4 billion and $47 billion — sum up WeWork’s business model and the risky reason it could collapse in a recession