Ankiti Bose resigns from Zilingo board

  • Ankiti Bose said the board failed to show her investigation reports on the firm or her alleged misconduct, even though she was a director and large shareholder of Zilingo

Livemint
Updated30 Jun 2022
Ankiti Bose, co-founder of Zilingo Pte.
Ankiti Bose, co-founder of Zilingo Pte.(Bloomberg)

Zilingo Pte co-founder and former Chief Executive Officer Ankiti Bose has stepped down as director from the company board due to lack of access to information. 

Bose said the board failed to show her investigation reports on the firm or her alleged misconduct, even though she was a director and large shareholder of Zilingo.

“Given the current circumstances, and due to the opacity of information to me as a board member and a shareholder, I have resigned forthwith from all directorships I hold with Zilingo’s holding company and any of its subsidiaries,” Bose said according to a statement posted on her Instagram account.

The startup's ousted CEO's resignation comes at a time when the firm is in discussions with shareholders over a management buyout offer as well as potential liquidation of the company's assets to pay off creditors.

Zilingo Pte's board members had met recently to hear the alternatives, including a presentation from adviser Deloitte LLP to sell off the company’s assets.

Co-founder Dhruv Kapoor briefly made the pitch for a buyout, a surprise, last-minute development.

The board meeting ended without a decision on Zilingo's fate. Directors will consider Deloitte's findings as well as the new management buyout proposal, and they’re trying to set a date for a new gathering.

Kapoor proposed the buyout to the Singapore-based company’s board. He has secured commitments from a small group of new investors including a US private equity firm, Bloomberg News had reported. 

The offer detailed plans for the investor group to inject $8 million in new equity in a newly incorporated entity in tranches, while the remaining assets and the old corporate entity would be liquidated in due course.

Bose endorsed Kapoor’s preliminary proposal minutes after it was sent out to existing shareholders. In her email, Bose urged investors to see beyond their “personal differences” and support the initiative.

Zilingo sacks CEO Ankiti Bose

Zilingo ousted Bose in May following an investigation led by an independent forensics firm into complaints of serious financial irregularities.

The company “decided to terminate Ms Ankiti Bose’s employment with cause, and reserves the right to pursue appropriate legal action,” the firm said in a statement earlier.

Bose was suspended from her duties at the fashion e-commerce platform on 31 March while the firm opened an investigation into allegations of accounting irregularities. Kroll led the probe into its finances over past weeks, although its findings have not yet been made public.

Bose has denied any claims of wrongdoing and has argued she is being unfairly targeted.

“I have been suspended for the last 51 days on the basis of an anonymous whistle-blower complaint, and today I am informed that my employment has been terminated inter alia on grounds of ‘insubordination’,” Bose had said.

As the clash between Bose and the board escalated, Bose hired an attorney to fight back against what they have described as a “witch hunt.” 

Bose has argued that she is getting blamed for decisions and practices that were well known by senior managers and directors, people familiar with the matter have said.

Zilingo had been one of the highest-profile startups to emerge from Singapore. Major investor Temasek Holdings Pte has expressed concern the meltdown is tainting its reputation and urged the company to fix the situation, people familiar with the matter have said.

The company raised $226 million at a valuation of $970 million in 2019 when Bose was 27 years old. But the Covid-19 pandemic took a toll on its business: Revenue dropped by about a third in fiscal 2021 to roughly $40 million. Bose took a pay cut of about 30% as a result, while the company laid off staff.

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