WeWork to snap up China-based rival Naked Hub: sources

HONG KONG/SHANGHAI (Reuters) – U.S. co-working firm WeWork Cos is planning to buy China-based rival Naked Hub, three sources familiar with the deal told Reuters, a move which would boost the New York firm’s footprint in the world’s second largest economy.

FILE PHOTO: A guest attends the opening ceremony of WeWork Hong Kong flagship location in Hong Kong, China February 23, 2017. REUTERS/Bobby Yip/File Photo

The deal, referred to as a merger internally, was announced to Naked Hub staff on Thursday morning and is likely to be made public later in the day, the people said.

FILE PHOTO: Jonathan Seliger, chief executive officer of Chinese co-working space operator Naked Hub, poses for a photo at one of their offices in Shanghai, China January 11, 2018. Picture taken January 11, 2018. REUTERS/Brenda Goh/File Photo

Bloomberg earlier reported, citing sources, that WeWork would pay about $400 million for the Shanghai-based firm.

Naked Hub and WeWork didn’t respond to requests for comment. The people asked not to be named as the details of the deal had not been revealed.

Naked Hub, headquartered in Shanghai, has around 50 opened and planned locations across mainland China, Hong Kong and Vietnam. Its chief executive told Reuters in January the firm was looking to expand around Asia and have 200 locations by 2020.

WeWork, backed by Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp (9984.T), is one of the world’s hottest start-ups. It received $4.4 billion in investments from the Japanese firm and its technology fund last year and has been valued at around $17 billion.

The U.S. firm leases office space and rents it out to individuals and small companies. It said in February it expected to double its membership to 400,000 people this year and would open 200 new office spaces around the world.

Reporting by Julie Zhu and Kane Wu in HONG KONG; Brenda Goh in SHANGHAI; Writing by Adam Jourdan; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman

Carol Humphreys