FirstFT: Neumann’s WeWork stake valued at $1bn

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Shares in WeWork surged yesterday as the company made its long-awaited public market debut at the New York Stock Exchange, while across town company co-founder Adam Neumann partied with early employees and celebrated a $1bn windfall from the listing.

The shared office space group’s stock closed up more than 13 per cent at $11.78 as investors piled in, anticipating that the consistently money-losing enterprise will benefit after the pandemic by a shift to more flexible working patterns.

The listing drew a line under WeWork’s lengthy, chequered journey to have its shares publicly traded. It gave early employees and private market investors their first chance to sell stock in the company, which opened its first office in 2010.

It also will enrich Neumann, the company’s former chief executive, who retains a roughly 11 per cent shareholding now worth more than $1bn.

Neumann and co-founder Miguel McKelvey hosted a party with dozens of early WeWork employees to celebrate the listing at the Standard Hotel in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District. Neumann, dressed in a T-shirt with the slogan “Student for Life” written on it, told attendees that he had learnt “hard lessons” but was “excited for the future”. 

This is your last chance to submit questions to our expert ahead of the COP26 summit in Glasgow. Email [email protected] and we will publish the responses. Thanks for reading FirstFT Americas. Here is the rest of today’s news — Gordon

Five more stories in the news

1. Biden vows to defend Taiwan Joe Biden vowed to defend Taiwan from Chinese military action at a wide-ranging CNN town hall event last night. The comments appeared to upend a decades-long policy of “strategic ambiguity”, under which Washington has refused to say whether it would defend Taiwan from a Chinese attack.

2. Hedge funds make millions as shares in Trump media Spac jump A group of 11 hedge funds, including DE Shaw and Saba Capital, earned millions of dollars in potential gains in a single day after a special purpose acquisition company that merged with Donald Trump’s new social media group rose as much as 421 per cent yesterday.

3. Evergrande pays missed dollar bond coupon, says Chinese media The heavily indebted Chinese property developer has repaid a missed interest payment on a dollar bond, state media reported, just days ahead of a deadline that would have forced a formal default.

4. Deutsche Bank whistleblower paid $200m reward The Commodity Futures Trading Commission has awarded almost $200m to a former bank employee who raised concerns about the manipulation of the Libor interest rate benchmark, marking the largest-ever payment under US whistleblower programmes.

5. Investors unnerved as Brazil economy officials quit Brazil’s government has been hit by the resignation of four officials in its economy ministry, as mounting concerns that Brasília will circumvent fiscal rules in order to boost welfare payments rippled through its financial markets. The Ibovespa stock market index fell as much as 4 per cent yesterday, before ending down 2.8 per cent. The real tumbled to a six-month low against the dollar.

Coronavirus digest

  • A booster shot of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine is 95.6 per cent effective against Covid-19, the companies announced yesterday.

  • Boris Johnson is hoping that the start of England’s school half-term today and a booster jab advertising blitz will damp a clamour to deploy Covid-19 “Plan B”.

  • The US is facing a shortage of rapid antigen tests ahead of next month’s deadline for unvaccinated workers to prove they have been vaccinated or submit to weekly testing.

The day ahead

G7 trade ministers meet Ministers will seek to address worsening supply chain issues at a meeting today hosted by Anne-Marie Trevelyan, UK trade secretary, and attended by representatives from the world’s wealthiest economies, including Katherine Tai, US trade representative. (Reuters)

US and European officials discuss Iran French, German and British diplomats will meet the US special envoy for Iran in Paris to discuss efforts to resume compliance with the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. The topic is also expected to come up in talks between Russian president Vladimir Putin and Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett. (Reuters, FT)

Economic data October purchasing manager surveys will be monitored for signs that supply chain bottlenecks and energy prices are affecting factories. (FXStreet, WSJ)

Picasso auction Artworks belonging to MGM Resorts will be sold at auction tomorrow in Las Vegas. The 11 Picassos were originally selected by Steve Wynn, the former chief executive of Wynn Resorts. (Las Vegas Sun)

What else we’re reading

What China’s hypersonic test launch reveals about the global arms race Revelations by the Financial Times that China tested two hypersonic weapons in recent months have sparked alarm among US defence officials. Here is a guide to what is known about the weapon and the other hypersonic arms under development around the world.

‘Striketober’ suggests workers have less heft than they were told Labour shortages across the US were supposed to give low-wage workers newfound bargaining power, but that leverage has been tough to wield against bosses who are not used to negotiating, writes FT labour and equality correspondent Taylor Nicole Rogers.

Crypto glossary Want to speak crypto? Our guide tells you all you need to know, from alt-coins to yield farming. In other crypto news, more than 100,000 people have had their eyes scanned in return for a cryptocurrency called Worldcoin, as a project to distribute digital money more widely around the world accelerates.

Russian mercenaries’ trail of destruction in Central African Republic With its history of instability, the mineral-rich country is the “perfect laboratory” for the Wagner Group, a Kremlin-linked network of companies that has helped President Faustin-Archange Touadéra beat back rebels. But its fighters have been accused of human rights abuses.

Waking up to the new sleep rules In 1940, dictator Francisco Franco moved Spain to German time to show solidarity with Adolf Hitler — and no one moved it back. Yet the country’s late mornings are what Simon Kuper has been looking for all his life: an escape from the pre-pandemic one-size-fits-all working schedule.

The politics of a pseudonym You could look at the outrage surrounding “Carmen Mola” this way: a group of guys masquerade as a woman and get, first, a pass for writing ultra-violent thrillers under a female name — and then, second, they get a fat prize too. But should we care?

Cinema

This week’s film releases include sci-fi epic Dune and Wes Anderson’s homage to journalism: The French Dispatch.

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