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(Bloomberg) -- Steve Schwarzman has doubts. So does Larry Ellison.And so, too, do the growing numbers of Wall Street bankers and investors who are all anxiously awaiting the next move by WeWork and its brash co-founder, Adam Neumann.Neumann was a no-show this week for a long-planned appearance at a SoftBank Group Corp. three-day retreat in Pasadena, California, according to people familiar with the the matter, a further sign that company executives are hunkering down. Once the WeWork initial public offering was postponed late Monday, organizers knew Neumann’s presence would be iffy, the people said. His planned appearance was rescheduled from the first day of the event at the Langham hotel to the last and then canceled altogether.In short order Neumann’s office-sharing company has gone from a get-rich story to a you’ve-got-to-be-joking melodrama -- from WeWork to WeWait to, now, WeWorry.It was a brutal week. First, WeWork’s parent company, We Co., finally conceded that its grandiose plans for going public would have to wait.Then Schwarzman, one of the most powerful figures on Wall Street, threw shade on the company’s hoped-for valuation, which has already collapsed from upwards of $60 billion to $15 billion -- or lower.“I sort of went, what? How do you get this?” Schwarzman, the head of private equity giant Blackstone Group Inc., said of the early numbers Wednesday at a luncheon in New York. Ellison, chairman of Oracle Corp., went further, according to Barron’s. He told a group of entrepreneurs at his San Francisco home that day that WeWork is “almost worthless.”And it only gets worse. In London, two deals for major office buildings that are largely leased out to WeWork started to fray. Back in its hometown of New York, the company made a small round of job cuts. And the Wall Street Journal, examining WeWork’s over-the-top culture, reported that Neumann and his friends smoked marijuana on a private jet en route to Israel last summer -- and left a chunk of the drug behind, spurring the plane’s owner to summon it back.If all that weren’t enough, Neumann’s own bankers were getting antsy: They were looking to revise a $500 million credit line secured by WeWork stock -- an acknowledgment that those shares appear far less solid than they used to.New RisksAnd, by Friday, Wendy Silverstein, a big name in New York commercial real estate who joined WeWork last year as head of its property investment arm, had left the company. She’s spending time caring for her elderly parents.Even the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston was adding to the angst. In a speech Friday in New York, Eric Rosengren warned that the proliferation of co-working spaces might pose new risks to financial stability.A WeWork representative declined to comment on Neumann’s canceled appearance at the SoftBank conference, citing the pre-IPO quiet period. SoftBank also declined to comment.Rarely has so much gone so wrong so fast for a young company in the spotlight. Neumann has begrudgingly agreed to cede some of his powers. The question now: Will that be enough?“I’ve never seen a company of this size and scale generate such a consensus of negative opinion in my long, long life of following IPOs,” said Len Sherman, a Columbia Business School adjunct professor whose 30-year business career included time as a senior partner at consulting firm Accenture Plc. “There is no box that they haven’t ticked when you think of all the reasons that you might be very concerned -- like blaring red lights. Like, oh my gosh, caution, danger, danger.”WeWork now hopes to go public next month. But even that may be optimistic. Neumann, also We Co.’s chief executive officer, has to persuade investors that his company -- which has raised more than $12 billion since its founding and never turned a nickel of profit -- is worth billions on the stock market.Deadline LoomsTime is short. WeWork must complete its IPO before the end of the year to keep access to a crucial $6 billion loan.The company’s $669 million of bonds due in 2025 have dropped 5 cents this week to 97.75 cents on the dollar as of Thursday, according to the Trace bond-price reporting system.A few hours after the Journal story hit Wednesday, investors at a Goldman Sachs Group Inc. conference in New York heard from Snap Inc.’s Evan Spiegel -- Neumann’s predecessor as a celebrated startup founder whose behavior and company control attracted unflattering attention as the unicorn went public in 2017.He was asked what advice he’d give to founders looking to become CEOs of companies that have to answer to shareholders. His answer:“Don’t go public.”(Updates with CEO’s canceled appearance in third paragraph.)\--With assistance from Gillian Tan, Matthew Boesler and Sarah McBride.To contact the reporters on this story: Ellen Huet in San Francisco at email@example.com;Scott Deveau in New York at firstname.lastname@example.org;Gwen Everett in New York at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael J. Moore at firstname.lastname@example.org, David Gillen, Daniel TaubFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have scheduled trips to Detroit next week, after striking auto workers criticized the presidential candidates for their absence from picket lines.More than 46,000 General Motors Co. workers walked off the job Sunday after their contract expired. Those workers are the exact kind of voters Democrats will need to defeat President Donald Trump in crucial swing states like Michigan in next year’s election.But as of Friday, only two major Democratic candidates — Tim Ryan and Amy Klobuchar — had joined workers protesting at GM facilities.Others have tweeted support for the United Auto Workers from campaign stops in Iowa, New Hampshire and other early primary states, denouncing GM for canceling health-care coverage for unionized employees during a contract impasse.“Where are these people at?” said Daniel Rider, a 46-year-old GM worker as he picketed in front of the GM headquarters in downtown Detroit Thursday.“They want help from the union. They come to the union for us to vote for them,” said Rider, who works at the GM powertrain plant in Romulus, Michigan, and gives $10 a month to a United Auto Workers political action committee.“Where are they at now when General Motors is putting their foot on our neck?” he said.As Rider spoke, Joe Biden was holding a fundraiser in Chicago. Warren was going to Iowa. And Sanders was rallying supporters in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.GM plants and their workers are concentrated in places including Ohio and Michigan -- crucial states to win a presidential election but not on the early primary calendar.Since 46,000 unionized GM workers walked off the job on Sunday, only two major candidates have joined them on the picket lines. Ryan, a congressman whose Ohio district was battered by job losses when GM idled its Lordstown plant, has been tweeting from union halls and factories across Ohio and Michigan since Monday.Kobuchar, a Minnesota senator, took coffee and doughnuts to striking workers at GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant on Thursday.Klobuchar is on a tour of the “Blue Wall” states — Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin — that were supposed to ensure Hillary Clinton a victory in 2016 but all went for Trump. Those states all have auto assembly or supplier plants, but do not have early primaries.But until Friday, other Democrats were lending support primarily though social media.Asked Thursday night in Iowa City if she would support the striking employees in person, Warren said: “I hope I get a chance to, but I’ve already joined them online. I’ve already sent my support. And I think that’s what we ought to be doing all across this country. We need to stand with the workers.”Warren will now go to Detroit on Sunday, and Sanders next Wednesday, their campaigns said. Details on both visits were still being finalized.Eddie Vale, a Democratic strategist who works for labor unions, said if he were advising a presidential campaign, he would drop everything to make a visit possible. “When there is an active strike and workers are on the line, you go and support them.”The irony, Vale said, is that candidates are talking about labor issues more than any time in recent memory.Health care has become a central issue in the campaign -- even to the extent that Biden and Sanders have been in a months-long debate about whose plan is better for unionized workers.Warren has promised she’ll nominate a union leader as labor secretary, and that a union representative would be present at trade negotiations.“I’m surprised there hasn’t been more action, and I’m not sure why not either,” said Laura Bucci, who studies labor unions and politics at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. “Strikes are really hard, and kind words mean something, but a physical presence would mean something more.”One possible complicating factor, Bucci said, is a corruption investigation swirling around top UAW officials. As the union was negotiating a new contract last month, federal agents were executing search warrants on UAW offices and the homes of its president, Gary Jones, and his predecessor.Trump, too, has largely kept his distance. After reports Tuesday that Trump was actively working to mediate the dispute, the White House denied involvement.Workers say they’re getting plenty of support from members of Congress and singled out Representatives Debbie Dingell and Rashida Tlaib.“At the local level, out at the plants, politicians have been showing up left and right,” said Stephanie Carpenter, a 22-year GM worker from Trenton, Michigan. “We’re not playing around, so you -- yeah, you -- better show your faces, you better support us, because come election day, we’ll clean house.”Carpenter, 44, supported Sanders in 2016 but said she’s still looking at other candidates this year. Asked why more Democrats aren’t on the picket lines, she vented her frustration at Trump.“Why isn’t Trump here? He’s our president. He wants to be involved,” she said. “Why isn’t he standing out here on this picket line saying, ‘Make an agreement. Let’s go. Let’s get busy.’”“I don’t see no Secret Service pulling up anytime soon, do you?”(Updates with newly scheduled Detroit visits by Sanders and Warren.)\--With assistance from Laura Litvan and Misyrlena Egkolfopoulou.To contact the reporters on this story: Gregory Korte in Washington at email@example.com;Gabrielle Coppola in Detroit at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Wendy Benjaminson at email@example.com, Max BerleyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- When General Motors Co. made a deadline-day offer for a new labor contract to the United Auto Workers last week, it came with a gift. The company was prepared to build batteries in an Ohio town that’s been sweating the prospect that half a century of car-making will come to an end.But there was a catch. GM and an as-yet-unnamed battery supplier for its next-generation electric vehicles would offer wages similar to what the automaker pays non-assembly workers who top out at $17 an hour, according to people familiar with the proposal. Senior-level plant staff make roughly $30 an hour. The shortfall is one of several reasons the union rejected GM and went on strike.For the UAW, who builds electric vehicles and how much they earn is an existential issue. Negotiators are already trying to get a better deal for temporary and less-tenured workers who don’t make the top assembly wage -- part of a tiered-pay system set up to rebuild union ranks in the wake of the recession. If it caves to GM again, the UAW fears it will be chasing wages for a generation.There are also grave concerns with essentially incentivizing GM to plow money into plants making battery cells and packs -- which may require less labor and likely use more non-union sub-assembly components -- at the expense of unionized factories making engines and transmissions for gas-burning autos.Big StakesThe implications are much bigger than just the future of Lordstown, where GM idled a car plant in March, much to the chagrin of President Donald Trump. The project GM has planned is to make batteries for some of the 20 electric models the company has vowed to sell globally by 2023, potentially including the electric trucks that were part of its offer to the UAW. It’s a key component of GM’s transformation and will employ a lot of workers, one of the people said.GM has reason to view its offer as a gift. Right now, GM buys batteries for its Chevrolet Bolt electric car from South Korean supplier LG Chem Ltd. The UAW doesn’t represent those workers.The largest producer of electric vehicles is Tesla Inc., whose Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk has vehemently and publicly opposed the UAW. A Tesla employee who called for forming a union at the company’s assembly plant in 2017 claimed assembly workers there made between $17 and $21 an hour, though they also are compensated with stock options.A union-represented battery plant in Lordstown would position the union for the electric age. But rather than see the offer as a way to add new members for decades to come, the UAW fears spend it will spend that time fighting to restore the level of pay and benefits won over the past 80 years.The battery factory would not be located in GM’s idled Lordstown assembly plant. GM wants to go forward with a plan to sell the facility to a venture overseen by fledgling electric-vehicle maker Workhorse Group Inc.The Union’s WorriesThe UAW already has reservations about electrification. In a white paper published earlier this year, the union estimated 35,000 jobs at engine and transmission plants could be wiped out as electric vehicles become the norm. It’s worried that assembly of electric vehicles, which require fewer parts, will be a drag on jobs.“The production of new EV components could shift business and employment to non-auto companies that lack a large U.S. manufacturing base,” UAW researchers wrote in the white paper. “This could undermine auto job quality by shifting work to employers with no history of manufacturing labor relations or to companies more likely to import components.”There is a similar issue, though much less contentious, at GM’s so-called Poletown plant that straddles the line between the traditionally Polish town of Hamtramck and Detroit. GM also has offered to build new electric vehicles there, which would give the factory life after January, when the company ceases production of the sedans it’s been making. If the union agrees, Hamtramck would make a line of battery-powered pickups and SUVs.Orion PrecedentWhile assemblers in Hamtramck would be covered by GM’s main contract, the company would likely want to include provisions to pay some workers at a lower wage, the people said. The automaker already has a subsidiary called GM Subsystems Manufacturing LLC that makes battery packs in Brownstown, Michigan, and does non-assembly work in other plants, such as handling of parts and materials. Those workers top-out at $17 an hour.The Chevy Bolt plant in Orion, Michigan, has such a deal in place, along with GM’s plant in Lansing making Chevy Camaro muscle cars and Cadillac sedans.For all its concerns, the UAW does see building electric vehicles as a possible lifeline for a union that’s seen membership fall precipitously from its peak in the 1970s.Electric vehicles “could be an opportunity to re-invest in U.S. manufacturing to produce the vehicles of the future under high-road working conditions,” UAW researchers wrote in the white paper. “But this opportunity will be lost if components are imported from other economies or shifted to low-road employers that pay wages below U.S. manufacturing standards.”\--With assistance from Dana Hull.To contact the reporter on this story: David Welch in Southfield at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Craig Trudell at email@example.com, Chester DawsonFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
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