DISTRESSED startup honestbee informed its creditors late on Tuesday night that it has sold some S$125,000 worth of perishables, furniture and equipment, while confirming that it intends to allow landlord LHN Space Resources to re-enter the premises of habitat (honestbee's brick-and-mortar supermarket) at 34 Boon Leat Terrace off West Coast Highway.
In an e-mail sent out to creditors, honestbee said that it has realised about S$111,000 from selling furniture and equipment to its management and employees, along with another S$14,000 from selling perishable goods.
Of this, chief executive Ong Lay Ann purchased over S$17,000 worth of furniture and perishables, honestbee said in the e-mail. This is an upward revision from the S$15,000 figure Mr Ong had earlier given The Business Times, when asked how much worth of the company's assets he had bought.
The company added in the e-mail that it has stored some of its assets in Mr Ong’s home, as well as at its new headquarters and store unit in Upper East Coast Road.
“In the circumstances, the sale represents the most time-saving and efficient method of realising the value of the company’s perishables and furniture and equipment. The company will continue to realise its furniture and equipment for working capital requirements,” honestbee said in the e-mail.
In it, the company also sought to explain to creditors why it had opted for a sale of its assets to employees. The company said that it had obtained quotes for some of its furniture from Hock Siong and Co and The Events Store, but the firms were only willing to pay 5 per cent and 2 per cent of the book value of the assets respectively.
“The company also considered conducting an auction… However, given the time pressure, the costs that would be incurred in conducting such an auction and the uncertainty over whether the company would be able to continue to occupy Level One of the (Boon Leat Terrace) premises, it ultimately decided against it,” honestbee said in the e-mail.
The company added that the China China No.2 sculpture from habitat is being stored at a warehouse in Genting Lane, and other artworks are at its headquarters.
Earlier on Tuesday, BT reported that the sculpture had been bought for S$185,000 in 2018, but that it is unclear whether it belongs to honestbee or former chief executive Joel Sng. The remaining artworks include a Lichtenstein painting believed to have been purchased for S$75,000 and a Yayoi Kusama resin pumpkin sculpture.
Separately, honestbee told creditors that it is consenting to LHN’s court application to re-enter habitat's premises. Earlier on Tuesday, BT reported that honestbee was in the process of surrendering its lease for the space, which is due for renewal in September.
In the e-mail, honestbee said that in a March 11 conference call, the 37 limited partners of the company’s key backer Formation Group told Mr Ong that they no longer wished to fund habitat’s operations at Boon Leat Terrace.
“Some of the factors that contributed to their decision are the uncertainties presented by the Covid-19 pandemic, and the uncertainty in obtaining a renewal of the lease at Level One of the Premises, in reducing costs of the operations of habitat through rebates and assistance from the landlord, and in being able to enjoy quiet enjoyment of the premises without intrusions,” honestbee added in the email.
Formation Group is the venture firm of LG scion Brian Koo, honestbee’s key investor and former interim chief executive.