Singpost liquidating 2 US e-commerce units acquired during ex-CEO Wolfgang Baier’s time

It was reported that two US e-commerce units of Singpost, Jagged Peak and TradeGlobal, have filed for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 11 after an unsuccessful six-month process of finding and securing a suitable buyer for both.

SingPost on Wed evening (18 Sep) said, “Under the supervision of the bankruptcy court, the U.S. subsidiaries intend to pursue the sale of all or substantially all of their assets.”

Singpost took an impairment of S$98.7 million on the carrying value of Jagged Peak and TradeGlobal in the year up to Mar 2019, and began the process of finding a buyer for the two the following month. But it couldn’t secure any buyer thereafter.

Temasek Holdings owns a major stake in Singpost.

US e-commerce units acquired under previous SingPost’s CEO Wolfgang Baier

Under the previous CEO Wolfgang Baier, Singpost acquired Jagged Peak and TradeGlobal for a total of S$253.5 million (US$184.4 million) in 2015, four years ago.

However, they have been a drag on SingPost’s profit for the last 3 years, causing SingPost’s market value to dive by half since its record high in February 2015.

An analyst commented, “U.S. e-commerce strategy comes at a heavy price (to Singpost).”

Baier himself was originally hired as a consultant to help SingPost revamp its business but ended up as SingPost’s CEO in 2011.

At the time when TradeGlobal was acquired in Oct 2015, Baier said in an interview that the acquisition will turn SingPost into a global e-commerce player. “It is connecting the dots to become a digital company. We are a global player,” he told ST.

In another interview with Nikkei Asian Review, he said entering the US will allow SingPost to “cover two-thirds of the global e-commerce market” and position the company as “one of the global leaders in e-commerce logistics.”

Then two months later in Dec 2015, he tendered his resignation from SingPost due to “personal reasons” but stayed on for a few more months to help in the handover.

In May 2016, it was reported that Baier started selling his shares in SingPost. In one sale, he sold off 2.5 million shares for about S$3.9 million in total.

Board member Michael Murphy who helped in acquisition resigns

When Baier tendered his resignation, then Chairman of SingPost Lim Ho Kee even praised him, “The Board appreciates and thanks Wolfgang for his leadership and role in accelerating SingPost’s transformation. Under Wolfgang’s leadership and great team effort, SingPost has been established as a regional leader in eCommerce logistics business, with a strong focus on digitising our business.”

In the same resignation announcement of Baier, Lim also revealed that a board director of SingPost, Mr Michael Murphy, had played a major role in SingPost’s acquisitions of TradeGlobal Inc and Jagged Peak.

“Additionally, Board Director, Mr Michael Murphy, with his vast and deep US experience, has played a major role in SingPost’s recent acquisitions of TradeGlobal Inc and Jagged Peak in the USA, and will continue to oversee the integration of these acquisitions as SingPost leapfrogs into global eCommerce logistics,” said Lim.

Further online checks reveal that Murphy has also resigned. In a SGX filing, it said that he resigned on 23 Feb 2017. In other words, barely less than 1.5 years after the acquisition of those US e-commerce companies in which Murphy was involved, instead of assisting SingPost to “leapfrog into global eCommerce logistics”, he also resigned from SingPost.