Bankers Form WeWork’s Community Circle

Graphic taken from a Securities and Exchange Commission filling by We Co. lists underwriting banks in a ring around the company logo.

Sept. 23, 2019 7:03 am ET

What bank is to blame for We Co.’s postponed initial public offering? Surely in the world of Wall Street chieftains, who love to distinguish between the classes and the masses, there is a leader.

Not so for this company, whose co-founder

Adam Neumann

has tirelessly enlisted the concept of “community” to flog stakes to investors. It isn’t just that WeWork’s parent tapped 31 capital markets desks. After all, many offerings enlist both Wall Street’s finest and also-rans. But companies often rank their bankers on the cover of the offering document: The bank pictured on the top left is the lead, with the most input into the process and typically the best fee haul. As it did to ordinary profits with its “community adjusted EBITDA” figure, WeWork has redefined the storied IPO hierarchy practice. Instead of being linearly listed, names of the top several banks, including the likes of

JPMorgan Chase

and

Goldman Sachs
,

form a ring around the company logo. There is no “top left.” Sadly, the protective ring of Wall Street institutions around We Co. failed to save it from a stalled offering. Conspicuously absent from the band is

Deutsche Bank
,

which is on the deal but sits among a host of less famous banks like Crédit Agricole and Stifel. Perhaps this is one community it is happy not to be a part of. Write to Lauren Silva Laughlin at lauren.silvalaughlin@wsj.com

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