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Struggling start-up Honestbee secures more support from key investor

This article is more than 12 months old

Retail start-up signs investment agreement with FLK Holdings

Struggling retail start-up Honestbee has secured further support from its key investor Brian Koo and his associates, and it is proposing a scheme that would see creditors paid in a mix of cash and equity.

The Straits Times understands that the start-up signed an investment agreement with FLK Holdings, a company incorporated in the US, earlier this month.

FLK Holdings shareholders are Mr Koo, Honestbee's former chairman, as well as Formation Group Fund I and Formation Group (Cayman) Fund I, which are also associated with Mr Koo.

FLK Holdings is reportedly the only company that expressed firm interest in investing in the start-up and working on a scheme of arrangement to creditors, despite Honestbee seeking out several investors.

The US-based firm will incorporate a private entity in Singapore to which Honestbee's business, assets and liabilities will be transferred.

This Singapore entity will issue shares to Honestbee's scheme of arrangement creditors - this excludes those of its creditors owed $500 or less, who number around 1,000.

About 800 creditors will be offered three cents on the dollar in cash and the remaining 97 per cent in shares issued by the Singapore-incorporated firm.

Honestbee's total debt to its creditors stands at around US$230 million (S$313 million).


An Honestbee spokesman said yesterday that payment tranches to former staff have so far been paid out.

Former employees have been told to expect a delay in the payment of the final instalment, which is due today, and the authorities have been informed of the delay, she added.

The January tranche is reportedly close to $230,000, including Central Provident Fund payments. Honestbee has around 150 staff here.

It was reported yesterday that if the scheme goes through, the start-up's creditors will own between 70 per cent and 75 per cent of FLK Holdings' Singapore-registered firm.

Mr Koo and his venture capital firm Formation Group, which is based in the US, will also be major shareholders in the new company.

FLK Holdings is understood to be investing about US$7 million in Honestbee. This will go towards working capital, full payment to creditors owed $500 or less, debt repayment to scheme creditors and professional fees and expenses.

The three-cents-on-the-dollar debt payment is expected to be made within a month of Honestbee's business being transferred to the Singapore-registered firm.

ST understands that the agreement between Honestbee and FLK Holdings is subject to several conditions, including the extension of Honestbee's debt moratorium by at least six months from today, and approval of the scheme by the court and creditors.