Zilingo founders make surprise buyout offer for startup

·2-min read
Photo shows several desks and office chairs, and employees working at the Zilingo office in Singapore, on Monday, 11 February 2019. (PHOTO: Bloomberg)
Photo shoes several desks and office chairs, and employees working at the Zilingo office in Singapore, on Monday, 11 February 2019. (PHOTO: Bloomberg)

By Olivia Poh and Yoolim Lee

Zilingo Pte co-founders made a last-ditch offer to buy the embattled fashion e-commerce platform as the board debates its future, according to people familiar with the matter.

Co-founder Dhruv Kapoor on Sunday proposed a management buyout to the Singapore-based company’s board, according to the people, who asked not to be named as the matter is private. He has secured commitments from a small group of new investors including a US private equity firm, the people said.

Under the preliminary proposal, the investor group will inject US$8 million in new equity in a newly incorporated entity in tranches, while the remaining assets and the old corporate entity will be liquidated in due course, according to Kapoor’s email sent to investors and seen by Bloomberg News. All outstanding debt owed to creditor Zorro Assets Ltd. will be frozen for three years, according to email.

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The move comes as Zilingo’s board is scheduled to meet on Monday to discuss the future of the company, according to people with knowledge of the matter. Allegations of financial irregularities in March prompted an investigation into the company, valued at US$970 million in 2019, and led to the dismissal of co-founder Ankiti Bose as chief executive officer in May. Her ouster plunged the once high-flying startup into crisis and sent shockwaves through Singapore’s technology industry.

(Updates with industry context in fourth paragraph. A previous version of this story was corrected to amend the spelling of co-founder’s name.)

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