UPDATE* | 20 June, 12 midnight SGT
A buyout for Zilingo? Ankiti Bose won’t be CEO again

Ahead of a board meeting that is expected to take place on 20 June at 11 AM SGT, Zilingo co-founder Dhruv Kapoor brings forth a management buyout proposal to existing shareholders.

In an email accessed by The Ken—sent on 19 June—Kapoor said it is a preliminary non-binding offer whereby the exact structure will be finalised by the buyer based on discussions with the directors, shareholders, and lenders. 

The management buyout proposal—made by Kapoor and ousted CEO Ankiti Bose—does not clearly lay out a business plan for the new entity. But The Ken understands that Bose will not be returning as CEO. Instead, a new CEO will be brought in to operate the new entity shall the buyout go through. She will, however, remain as founder and board member of the new entity. 

As part of the management buyout, US$8 million of equity funding will be committed to the new entity by the buyout group. It will be drawn down by Zilingo’s management in tranches to meet the needs of the company’s new business plan. 

The proposed buyout, however, will also slash Zilingo’s valuation by half, at the very least, said a former senior employee. The company was last valued at US$970 million. They added that the buyout group consists of a regional private equity firm, but declined to identify them. Together, with the company’s US$48 million debt, that will put the value of the buyout at about US$56 million.

It’s an understatement to say that Singapore-based B2B fashion commerce startup Zilingo––last valued at US$970 million––is a shell of its former self. Once among the most celebrated startups, the company is now staring at an existential crisis.

According to former senior employees, the company’s board is split about Zilingo’s future, especially after it dismissed dismissed Reuters Singapore startup Zilingo fires CEO after suspension Read more co-founder Ankiti Bose on 20 May. This came just two months after it suspended suspended Bloomberg Singapore’s Zilingo is said to suspend CEO amid probe Read more the then-CEO over “financial irregularities”.

Bose remains on the Zilingo board, alongside co-founder and chief technology officer Dhruv Kapoor, Sequoia Capital India, Burda Principal, and Koru Partners.

In an interview with The Ken, Bose insisted that she hasn’t seen any reports from the investigations launched by Zilingo’s board to date. She denied any wrongdoing, adding that the board has not reached out to her for any dialogue on the company’s future.

AUTHOR

Ka Kay Lum

Based in Kuala Lumpur, Ka Kay covers investment activities, aka following the money, across Southeast Asia and in-depth stories on the often-overlooked Malaysian startup ecosystem. She was previously a regional writer for Nikkei-owned DealStreetAsia.

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