By Joshua Franklin and Greg Roumeliotis
NEWYORK (Reuters) – WeWork co-founder Adam Neumann has started talks with board directors and investors to discuss his future role, including the possibility of giving up his title as chief executive of the U.S. office-sharing start-up, people familiar with the matter said on Monday.
Neumann has not yet agreed to step aside as CEO of WeWork parent We Company, and there is no certainty he will do so, the sources said. However, a board challenge planned by investors, including SoftBank Group Corp <9984.T> and Benchmark Capital, has been put on hold until these discussions produce an outcome, the sources added.
One possibility that Neumann is discussing is transitioning into a chairman role, the sources said. Details of the discussions and what Neumann would ask in exchange for giving up his CEO title could not be learned.
Another option would be for Neumann to remain as CEO, with an independent chairman brought in to join the board, according to one of the sources.
Were Neumann to agree to a leadership transition, it would make it unlikely that We Company can proceed with its plans to complete an initial public offering by the end of the year. This would mean it would have replace a $6 billion (4.8 billion pounds)debt deal it reached with banks this summer that is contingent on the start-up going public.
We Company is considering slowing its expansion so that it burns through less cash and would therefore require less funding in the absence of an IPO in the near team, one of the sources said.
The sources asked not to be identified because the matter is confidential. WeWork declined to comment. Neumann did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
(Reporting by Joshua Franklin and Greg Roumeliotis in New York; Editing by Dan Grebler)