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WeWork Is Finally Going Public. Will SoftBank Ever Make Its $17 Billion Back?

The Japanese conglomerate is in a deep hole that will be tough to climb out of.

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Photographer: Benjamin Girette/Bloomberg

In venture capital, the first investment in a startup is almost always the most lucrative. Not so for SoftBank Group Corp.’s investment in WeWork. In that case, SoftBank’s best deal was its last.

It’s an unusual culmination of a strange and sometimes-tortured partnership between the two companies. SoftBank will finally get a chance to start recouping some of the more than $17 billion it poured into WeWork when the company lists its shares on the New York Stock Exchange as soon as this week.