Troubled delivery startup honestbee appoints new COO, beefs up core team

Singapore-based grocery delivery startup honestbee has appointed Varian Lim as its new chief operating officer (COO) as the troubled company continues to restructure its operations. Lim’s role is effective as of October 1, 2019.

According to a statement, Lim was previously honestbee’s chief of staff and has been with the firm since 2015. As COO, Lim will execute on honestbee’s short and long-term goals, implement stronger business practices and drive its business towards sustainable growth.

Apart from COO, honestbee has also made a slew of senior management appointments. “The new appointments underscores the company’s effort in restructuring its business,” the company said, in a statement.

Its new core team includes Zhen Rong Chua, VP (regional growth); Kenneth Forbes, VP, (habitat), YT Lim, VP, (finance); Sharon Ong, general counsel (interim); and, Anthony Ung, VP, (corporate strategy).

Earlier this month, honestbee was granted a four-month debt moratorium by the Singapore High Court to work on a re-capitalisation plan for its shareholders. The struggling startup has until January 31, 2020 to work out a strategy, which will likely involve converting debt into equity and spinning off select parts of its business.

According to an earlier Business Times report, honestbee had $235.8 million in total current liabilities as of end-June. It is also looking to restructure about $209 million owed to about 1,800 convertible noteholders and trade creditors via a debt-to-equity swap.

The startup’s largest creditors are its key investor Brian Koo, Formation Group and A Honestbee, an entity that’s backed by Koo’s South Korean family business, Yesco. Koo and the entities linked to him account for over 80 per cent honestbee’s debt and are understood to have expressed support for the moratorium.

Koo stepped down as honestbee chairman on September 12. None of the founding team members – Joel Sng, Jonathan Low, and Isaac Tay remain 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.