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BENGALURU : Real estate veteran Sandeep Mathrani, who was appointed as the chief executive officer (CEO) of shared workspace provider WeWork in February, has joined the board of the Indian arm at a time when the company seeks to tide over the covid-induced disruptions and become profitable.

The parent recently infused $100 million into WeWork India as it sees growth opportunities in the country for flexible workspace market.

Mathrani was brought in by WeWork as the global CEO at a critical juncture as it sought to turn around and rebuild the company after a failed attempt to launch an initial public offering and the sudden exit of co-founder and former CEO Adam Neumann.

WeWork India CEO Karan Virwani said the company has greater confidence in the India business. “We had a board meeting recently with Sandeep and we are on the same page. To have the global CEO as part of our board is also about building and running the business according to the WeWork standard. There is also higher collaboration and the overall strategy stressed on flexibility and value proposition for customers, especially after the pandemic." The Indian arm was started with a brand franchise agreement and had opened its first centre in 2017.

Mathrani is perceived as a hands-on CEO, someone who was hired primarily to turn the company around. In the last few months, WeWork took several tough measures to cut costs and rightsize the organisation with a clear focus on profitability over rapid expansion, an entirely different approach to the Neumann era. Last month, the firm had also told its staff that SoftBank had committed $1.1 billion in new financing.

The lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus in India has severely impacted the shared-workspace sector, with occupancy at 10-12% of pre-pandemic levels, as people continue to work from home. WeWork signed multiple lease deals with enterprise clients across cities in recent months to offer more flexible options and value offerings, including on-demand access to space on hourly or half-hourly basis.


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