Honestbee hit with wind-up petition from creditor

Failed grocery delivery startup Honestbee has been hit with a winding-up application from creditor Benjamin Lim Jia-Rong, according to a filing with the Singapore High Court on Monday.

The application is due to be heard on 17 April, the notice of the filing on the Government Gazette said.

Honestbee CEO Ong Lay Ann, who took the helm in July, told DealStreetAsia the company had no comment and would wait for the court hearing.

According to a Business Times report, Honestbee owes Lim around $3.8 million from an unsecured loan, making him junior to secured creditor Formation Group’s $4 million claim.

Honestbee lost court protection from creditors for its $230 million of debt on March 26 after the Singapore court rejected its request for more time to convene a meeting with creditors.

Around 90 per cent of Honestbee’s debt is controlled by Formation Group, which is a fund controlled by Brian Koo, and parties related to him. The rest of the company’s liabilities are split between more than 1,000 unsecured trade and financial creditors, including landlord LHN Space Resources, which has been keen to reclaim the real estate used by the startup to house its brick-and-mortar grocery outlet Habitat.

Honestbee had a negative equity position of around $210 million as of mid-2019, and only around $14 million in property, plant and equipment, as well as around $650,000 in cash.

Since August, Honestbee has shut down the bulk of its delivery operations as well as grocery store Habitat, which the company had previously described as a possible seed from which to rebuild the business.

In March, the startup alleged breaches of fiduciary duties by the former CEO and a former director and said it had sent letters of demand. One of those directors has rejected those allegations. In addition, the Business Times had reported that Honestbee had about $260,000 of art in storage, but that the company was still trying to determine the ownership of all of those pieces of art.

In mid-March, as many as 77 former Honestbee employees had filed claims with the Ministry of Manpower saying their salaries hadn’t been paid.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

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  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.