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Newmark to buy Knotel as flex office co. looks to figure out a way back

Knotel has announced plans to accelerate its transformation into a more capital efficient business and reorganize its operations and capital structure under new ownership.

As part of its strategic path forward, Knotel has reached an agreement to sell the business to an affiliate of Newmark Group, Inc., the commercial real estate firm. The Company has also made the decision to exit multiple locations in the U.S. as part of the process.

To accomplish the sale of the business and a reorganization of the Company’s U.S. footprint in the most efficient manner, Knotel and its U.S. subsidiaries have filed voluntary petitions for relief under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware (the “Court”). The filing does not include Knotel’s international operations.

Knotel has obtained a commitment for debtor-in-possession (“DIP”) financing from an affiliate of Newmark of approximately $20 million in cash. Subject to Court approval, Knotel believes this DIP financing will provide sufficient liquidity to support Knotel’s day-to-day operations during the process, including timely payment of employee wages and continuation of benefits, as well as working with customers and vendors.

AMOL SARVA

Amol Sarva, Knotel Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, said, “After a thorough review of strategic alternatives, we have determined that a process to sell our business and reshape our U.S. footprint is the best path forward to maximize value for our stakeholders. The pandemic created a uniquely challenging operating environment, with significant impacts on leasing velocity and the rate of renewals in key markets, particularly New York and San Francisco. We must address this now to position our business for sustainable growth and a successful future.”

“Our restructuring will enable us to strengthen our balance sheet, focus on a rightsized portfolio of locations, and maintain relationships with our customer base while continuing to build on Knotel’s differentiated service offering. We continue to believe in Knotel’s potential in the growing flex market. We thank our talented team members for their continued hard work and dedication toward fulfilling our vision of tailoring flexible workspaces on a global scale so companies and their people are empowered to do their best work,” Dr. Sarva added.

“We look forward to supporting Knotel through this transitional period,” said Newmark Chief Executive Officer Barry Gosin. “We are providing capital to Knotel so it can rightsize its business for the path forward.”

To ensure a smooth transition into Chapter 11, the Company filed with the Court a series of customary “first day” motions, including requests to continue to pay wages and provide health and insurance benefits to employees in the normal course.

The Company also filed a motion requesting approval of a stalking horse asset purchase agreement with Newmark and to initiate a process under Section 363 of the Bankruptcy Code.

Milbank LLP and Fenwick & West LLP are serving as legal counsel and Moelis & Company LLC is serving as investment banker to Knotel.

Newmark has been an investor in Knotel since its early days. Just six months before the start of the pandemic, the workspace provider completed a $400 million financing round, led by Wafra, an investment arm of the Sovereign Wealth Fund of Kuwait and announced it planned to expand into the world’s 30 largest cities.

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