Office-sharing start-up WeWork looks to Southeast Asia for expansion

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Office-sharing start-up WeWork is looking to expand within Southeast Asia.

The New York-based company, known for spacious buildings consisting of private offices and desks that it rents to freelancers, first entered the regional market last December with a Singapore branch. Since then, it’s opened seven more locations in the city-state in addition to three sites in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta.

More buildings are in the pipeline for Singapore, with Bangkok up next, WeWork Managing Director of Southeast Asia Turochas “T” Fuad told CNBC’s Dan Murphy on Wednesday. Buildings in Manila and Kuala Lumpur could follow, he said.

The firm already boasts a strong presence elsewhere in Asia, having entered China and South Korea in 2016 followed by India last year.

Speaking with CNBC at technology conference InnovFest Unbound, Fuad attributed the firm’s ambitious plans to strong Southeast Asian demand.

“The whole concept of urbanization, the whole sharing economy concept is definitely migrating towards the commercial sector,” he said, noting that office occupants are a blend of international companies and local start-ups.

More Chinese and Indian companies are also choosing Southeast Asian locations, he noted.

The region has experienced a massive tech boom, particularly in e-commerce, in recent years thanks to soaring mobile and internet penetration rates.

WeWork is also taking steps to diversify its business by designing, building and operating offices for major corporations — a program it calls “Powered by We.”

“Powered by We” essentially brings WeWork to global enterprises, Fuad said, citing the firm’s work for Standard Chartered in Hong Kong as an example: “Ultimately, large companies want to be as nimble as start-ups.”

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