SingPost issued a press statement yesterday (13 Dec) saying that it has sold off the assets of its two US e-commerce subsidiaries Jagged Peak and TradeGlobal, which were undergoing bankruptcy proceeding in the US.
Soon after the two US subsidiaries filed for bankruptcy in Sep this year, they started selling off their respective assets.
Early this month, a European contract logistics group, ID Logistics, bought the assets of Jagged Peak for US$15 million. Meanwhile, another company, Visible Supply Chain Management (VSCM), has also acquired TradeGlobal’s assets for an undisclosed amount.
SingPost has already written down the entire value of its US investments, taking an impairment charge of $98.7 million on the carrying value of TradeGlobal and Jagged Peak in the financial year ended in March 2019. Temasek Holdings indirectly owns a major stake in SingPost via Singapore Telecommunications Limited (SingTel).
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$250 million (US$184.4 million) in 2015, four years ago. Jagged Peak provided software and services to help businesses improve profitability on multiple channels while TradeGlobal offered website development, logistics, digital marketing, creative services and order management for the fashion, beauty and lifestyle sectors.
But the foray into the US e-commerce market was a disaster as the two companies racked up millions in losses. They had 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 abruptly 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.
SingPost Board member Michael Murphy who helped in acquisition also 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 one and a half years after the acquisition of those loss-making US e-commerce companies in which Murphy was involved in, instead of assisting SingPost to “leapfrog into global eCommerce logistics”, he also resigned from SingPost.