SG’s Honestbee owes salaries worth $1m to 217 employees

Honestbee, the troubled grocery delivery startup from Singapore, owes salaries amounting to about $1 million to as many as 217 employees, according to a court affidavit as was first reported by the Straits Times.

Further, the affidavit also states that the company’s chairman and key investor, Brian Koo, resigned from the board on September 12.

Honestbee is currently engaged in a Singapore High Court-supervised restructuring process aimed at turning the company’s finances around. The Singapore High Court had directed the startup last month to provide details of a proposed scheme of arrangement — the first step in restructuring Honestbee’s debt.

The Singapore High Court has scheduled its next hearing on the matter on September 30.

According to the Straits Times report, as many as 44 former Honestbee employees filed claims with the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management in Singapore. An affidavit filed by Honestbee’s CEO, Ong Lay Ann, also states that the company has downsized to 190 employees from 523 full-time and 77 part-time staff in January.

A previous affidavit filed by Honestbee had reported that the company owes its 20 largest unsecured creditors about S$276.6 million ($199.21 million), higher than previously announced estimates. It also owes key investor Formation Group $4 million, secured by an all-monies charge.

Honestbee’s three largest creditors are all linked to Brian Koo – Singapore-registered special purpose vehicle A Honestbee, Formation Group and Koo, himself. The three collectively account for about 77.2 per cent of Honestbee’s debt.

Brian Koo, a general partner at Formation Group, had stepped in as Honestbee’s interim CEO after its previous CEO and co-founder, Joel Sng resigned from the role in May.

Formation Group has previously expressed interest to inject up to $25 million to shore up Honestbee’s finances. Koo and Formation Group each injected $1 million into Honestbee as working capital between August 5 and August 22.

Launched in 2015, Honestbee was co-founded by Joel Sng, Jonathan Low and Isaac Tay. Neither of the founding team members is currently with the company. The Singapore-based startup is currently led by Ong Lay Ann, who joined Honestbee in July as CEO.

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.

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.