Tuesday, 18 May 2021

EnterprisePM — Companies may be about to downgrade bids for Alex Medical

TL;DR

WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TONIGHT

Hump day in this short week is almost over, ladies and gentlemen. Enjoy it, as it will likely be the last short work week until 30 June rolls around.

THE BIG STORY TODAY- Are bidders for Alex Medical looking to get it at a lower price? It appears that Cleopatra Hospital Group’s (CHG) bid to acquire Alex Medical may be pushing other companies in the race to lower their bids. Nile Misr Healthcare confirmed to us this morning that it is looking to bring down its initial bid following CHG’s MTO, but other bidders are so far denying plans to make similar moves. We cover the story in greater detail in the Speed Round below.

HAPPENING NOW- Renaissance Capital’s annual MENA Investor Conference is currently underway with Global Chief Economist, Charlie Robertson, and Acting Head of Research Africa, Yvonne Mhango presenting the bank’s MENA macroeconomic update. This will be followed with a panel discussion that includes among others, Fawry CEO Ashraf Sabry. The event is being broadcast live here, but if the timing isn’t right, look to tomorrow’s EnterpriseAM for coverage on the event.

The conference will run until this Thursday, with the majority of the remaining days being one-on-one meetings. You can check the schedule for the conference here.

** CATCH UP QUICK on the top stories from today’s EnterpriseAM:

PSA- The Health Ministry is launching this week a chatbot service on WhatsApp to answer inquiries on vaccine registration including the date and location of their vaccine appointment as well as allowing people to report any side-effects after getting the jab, Aysam Salah, adviser to the Health Minister on ICT, said in a press conference today, reports Al Masry Al Youm.

THE BIG STORY ABROAD- No reports of Palestinians killed overnight for the first time since 10 May when the fighting between Israel and Hamas erupted, as international calls for ceasefire continue to mount, Reuters reports. The intensity of long-range Palestinian rocket attacks was also tuned down since midnight. US President Joe Biden finally said he “supports” a ceasefire in his third call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday — an offer Israel looks to turn down as it vows to press on for now with its attacks against Hamas. The Israeli military will “continue to operate in Gaza in accordance with a target list for the coming 24 hours,” chief spokesman Brigadier-General Hidai Zilberman said. The UN General Assembly is scheduled to meet on Thursday to discuss the attacks.

Egypt’s infrastructure diplomacy policy extended to Gaza: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi has reportedly pledged USD 500 mn in reconstruction aid to the residents of Gaza, according to an Ittihadiya statement. Egyptian companies will also participate in the rebuilding efforts, El Sisi said at a tripartite summit in Paris today with French President Emmanuel Macron and Jordan’s King Abdullah. The move is in line with Egypt’s infrastructure diplomacy efforts, which sees the government encouraging private sector construction companies to help rebuild vital infrastructure in conflict-ridden regional countries such as Iraq.

WANT A REFRESHER ON EGYPT’S INFRASTRUCTURE DIPLOMACY? Check out our Hardhat feature here.

🗓 CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-

Africa-based startups have until 26 May to sign up for the French government-sponsored AFD Digital Challenge, an annual startup competition (pdf) run by the French Development Agency (AFD). This year, the competition is targeting startups that work on environmental protection and tackle carbon emissions. The 10 startups chosen will receive a package of technical and financial support worth EUR 20k.

The IMF will complete at the end of June a second review of targets set under Egypt’s USD 5.2 bn standby loan. The loan was approved in June 2020.

The El Gouna International Squash Open 2021 and the CIB PSA World Tour Finals will go ahead as planned, PSA World Tour announced. The El Gouna Open will take place on 20-28 May, while the CIB-sponsored World Tour Finals will run on 22-27 June in Cairo. It’s still unclear whether fans will be allowed into the stands, with tickets said to be “on sale soon”.

🚙 FOR YOUR COMMUTE-

Tesla CEO Elon Musk is seeing his fortune tumble, falling 24% from its January high to USD 161 bn after the tech tycoon exercised his influence in the crypto markets in the past few weeks, reports Bloomberg. The drop in wealth has slid Musk from his spot as the second-richest person globally, going instead to LVMH Chairman Bernard Arnault. Musk’s fortune has dropped about USD 9.1 bn this year alone, the most among US-based bn’aires, according to Bloomberg’s wealth index.

Revenge of the shorts? Tesla has long been among the companies that are popular among short sellers, including Michael Burry — known for his depiction in The Big Short — who revealed a short position against Tesla worth USD 530 mn, reports CNBC. Burry had previously flagged Tesla’s reliance on regulatory credits to generate profits as a red flag in a Tweet he later deleted.

📺 ON THE TUBE TONIGHT-

French-language science fiction thriller Oxygen is worth a watch. The film starts with the main character (played by Mélanie Laurent) waking up in a cryogenic chamber where she’s been mummified. When the AI voice of the chamber's operating system tells her that oxygen supply is damaged and depleting fast, Laurent does all she can to remember how she came about her and how to survive. The claustrophobic single-location film never gets boring, with constant new events and suspense at every turn. Collider and Entertainment Weekly both give the film a B.

The English Premier League is close to wrapping up, and surprise, surprise, Manchester City has it all sewn up. Gameweek 37 is kicking off today, with Man United going up against Fulham and Southampton against Leeds at 7pm, while Brighton has a match against Man City at 8pm and Chelsea will hit the field with Leicester City at 9:15pm.

Serie A’s sole match tonight is Lazio versus Torino at 8:30pm.

In other sports news, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek’s hopes of acquiring Arsenal have seemingly fallen through, reports Goal. Club director Josh Kroenke and his family have turned Ek down and are determined to hang on to the reins of the football team despite falling out of favor with fans for Arsenal’s abysmal performance since the Kroenke’s took over the club and after the Super League debacle.


Egypt will be hosting the inaugural Women’s CAF Champions League this year, which will act as a qualifier for the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia-New Zealand 2023, reports KingFut. A team draw that took place last week decided that Egypt’s women's team will go up against Tunisia in the first round, with dates still to be announced.

Egypt has also been selected to host the 2023 Africa U-20 Cup of Nations which will pave the way for participation in the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Indonesia taking place during the same year.

💡 UNDER THE LAMPLIGHT-

Your workout motivation in comic form: Graphic novel The Secret to Superhuman Strength explores cartoonist Alison Bechdel’s experience with fitness and working out. In relatable comics and storylines, Bechdel recounts the sports she participated in including running and cycling classes and how being active has helped her on her journey of self-discovery. The Atlantic is a big fan, praising the novel’s style and adding snippets of their favorite parts.

🌤 TOMORROW’S WEATHER- Expect temperatures of 37°C during the day and 20°C at night tomorrow, our favorite weather app tells us. The mercury should start falling to cooler levels on Saturday.

SPEED ROUND: M&A WATCH

First Cleopatra, now Nile Misr.

Nile Misr Healthcare plans to lower its initial offer for a majority stake in Alexandria Medical Services following Cleopatra Hospital Group’s (CHG) bid yesterday, Managing Director Tarek Moharram told us this morning.

The race for Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank’s 51.4% stake in the healthcare provider took a turn yesterday, when CHG lodged a mandatory tender offer for 100% of the company that values the company at EGP 550 mn, significantly below other initial offers which according to PwC value the firm at EGP 700-800 mn.

This seems to have impacted Nile Misr’s thinking: The healthcare investment platform, which represents diagnostics labs Nile Scan, already saw “good reasons” to lower its original offer, but CHG took the lead with its MTO this week at a much lower share price, Moharram said, without disclosing the value of its initial bid.

To be taken with a grain of salt: rumors that other bidders might be about to do the same: Al Mal claimed this morning that two others — the Speed Medical-Tawasol-LimeVest consortium and the Mabaret Al Asafra-Tana group — have either decided or will soon decide to slash their initial offers. Representatives of Speed Medical, LimeVest and Mabaret Al Asafra all denied that they’ve taken any decisions regarding the final bid when approached for comment by Enterprise.

Radio silence from the other two bidders: We were unable to reach healthcare investment firm Seha Capital and the UAE’s Global One Healthcare Holding prior to dispatch, and the Al Mal report made no mention of their plans.

SPEED ROUND: STARTUP WATCH

Homzmart raises USD 15 mn in series A funding

Online furniture marketplace Homzmart has landed USD 15 mn in a series A round led by China’s MSA Capital and Emirati-Saudi VC firm Nuwa Capital, Menabytes reports, citing a statement by the company. Rise Capital, Impact46, EQ2 Ventures, and Outliers Ventures have also taken part in the round.

A MENA expansion is in the pipeline: The online platform will use the funding to “expand regionally” as well as boost its value chain, co-founder and CEO Mahmoud Ibrahim said.

The new round of financing brings the total amount raised to USD 17.2 mn. This includes the USD 1.3 mn the startup raised in February 2020 from MSA Capital, the Oman Technology Fund and Choueiri Group’s Equitrust. Nuwa also earlier invested in the Cairo-based platform, but it wasn’t clear how much back then.

Strong performance despite the global economic slowdown: Homzmart had its sales grow over 30x over the past 12 months, the statement read. The company said earlier it aims to get a slice of the USD 60 bn regional market for furniture.

About Homzmart: The Egyptian startup was founded in late 2019 by former Jumia execs Mahmoud Ibrahim (LinkedIn) and Ibrahim Mohamed (LinkedIn), with the platform officially launching in 1Q2020. The platform directly connects suppliers with consumers, showcasing a variety of 55k furniture products from several brands and merchants.

SPEED ROUND: BANKING

Banque du Caire to launch its Tally e-payments arm by year-end

State-owned Banque du Caire will roll out its new e-payments arm, dubbed “Tally”, by the end of this year, a source familiar with the matter at the bank told Enterprise. The bank has finished setting up the new entity and already obtained the necessary approvals from the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) and regulatory authorities, the source added. We still don’t have a lot of details about the new entity, but the source said it will facilitate transactions made over POS systems.

Background: BdC first announced its plan to set up a digital arm last September, and is reportedly looking to partner with a foreign investor. The bank received approval from the central bank last year.

SPEED ROUND: MOVES

UK appoints new ambassador to Egypt

UK appoints new ambassador to Egypt: Gareth Bayley has been appointed the UK’s new ambassador to Egypt, succeeding Sir Geoffrey Adams who will retire from diplomatic service, the British Foreign Office said today. Bayley will arrive in Cairo in September, and will leave behind his current role as the prime minister’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office’s director for South Asia and Afghanistan.

GO WITH THE FLOW

Meet our analyst of the week: Pharos’ Dalia Bonna

OUR ANALYST OF THE WEEK- Dalia Bonna, assistant vice president at Pharos Holding for Financial Investments (LinkedIn).

My name is Dalia Bonna and I’m the assistant vice president at Pharos, covering banking and NBFS services in Egypt. Banking for me is the most complex sector and it’s a constant learning process. I graduated from AUC with a bachelor in business administration and double minor in economics and mathematics. I joined Pharos three months after graduating and the firm has really given me the chance to get a deep exposure at a young age as they don’t stick to a complex corporate hierarchy.

I consider myself very lucky for joining Pharos when I did. It was September 2016, two months before the EGP floatation, and I started off my career during a very interesting period. I enjoyed the constant necessary hands-on and feeling like I was a part of this huge economic event. Of course, the pandemic has managed to compete with that time as a contender for an apocalyptic time in the finance industry [laughs].

The best part of my job is that there's always more to know. The sky's the limit. There is no right way to do things or right answers: for every opinion, there is a counter opinion. That just means that you have to be even more creative in how you value companies, write reports, and communicate ideas.

The worst part of the job is working with weak disclosures. It feels like you’re blindfolded or handicapped and trying to make sense of what little you have to turn it into something meaningful. Of course, never being able to disconnect or relax is also overwhelming at times.

Work from home has worked well for me. I’m more focused because there are less distractions and I’m more able to organize my time inside and outside of work. I’m grateful that this pandemic has normalized working from home for us and our clients. However, I wouldn’t stick to this 100%, I do think going to the office is important as well, so maybe a mix of both would be ideal.

My theory of investment is to diversify, be agile, and be responsive to maximize your returns. I think moderation is my life motto and I apply it to everything. When investing, you should never put all your eggs in one basket, or in this case, one stock or sector.

Before recommending an investment I always focus on the company’s fundamentals. I also look at how the story of the stock makes sense against the economy. The impact of the regulatory environment plays a very important role, especially in banking because it's highly regulated. And then I narrow it down to clients’ stress tolerance, investment objective, and whether it's a long or short-term investment.

Since covid, I’ve started putting more emphasis on portfolio quality when looking at banking stocks. This is a major metric that has major consequences on profitability as non-performing loans are very possible after the pandemic. That also means looking at the bank’s provisions and capital base.

We’re almost halfway through 2021 and I think it’s been a better year for everyone than 2020. We’re on the right track on the ground and on the macro front we’ve continued to grow with a positive economic outlook going forward.

I’m more optimistic about 2022 though — for all sectors and for banking in particular. The banking sector spent a few years experiencing new regulations and working to implement them, pushing profitability down on its priority list. However, next year the impact of all these changes will finally make themselves clear and we expect the quality of portfolios to be better. For the general economy, I think that there has been a lot of pent up investment waiting for Egypt to stabilize and once the vaccine rollout progresses, we’ll finally see it implemented.

The pandemic also normalized uncertainty, supporting a more confident outlook for 2022 globally. The perception of risk has changed for many people as they will now accept a higher level of uncertainty. The events of covid made us kind of immune to weird unexpected events happening [laughs].

If I had to switch to cover another sector, I’d go for oil and gas because of the story behind it. I think it’s interesting that it’s greatly influenced by geopolitical factors that can sometimes transcend the normal supply and demand.

The last great thing I watched is the German series Dark. It’s very heavy and definitely not a TV show to relax to, but I felt it was beautifully put together with unexpected twists and turns. I consider it a masterpiece.

The last great thing I read is Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. It’s a fantastic book and just what I needed at the time. It made me more self-aware and able to stay in the present moment.

When I’m not on the clock, I like to spend time with family or friends. I’m a fan of engaging in any kind of physical activity and I’ve tried a ton of sports such as basketball, swimming, and gymnastics. During the past period, I’ve been consistent with cross fit training. Of course, when there isn’t a pandemic going on, I love to travel. My favorite destination is El Nido, which is an Island in the Philippines.

If I had to switch jobs to anything else, I would be a pilot so I could travel as much as I can. Honestly, I don’t mind working as anything that would get me on a plane every few days.


THE CLOSING BELL-

The EGX30 rose 1.0% at today’s close on turnover of EGP 1.67 bn (25.8% above the 90-day average). Foreign investors were net sellers. The index is down 0.6% YTD.

In the green: ElSewedy Electric (+6.5%), GB Auto (+6.2%) and EKH (+4.2%).

In the red: Export Development Bank (-1.8%), Ibnsina Pharma (-0.7%) and CIB (-0.5%).

LIFE

Smartphones are now home, sweet home

Our love affair with smartphones has grown so deep, we now practically live inside them: A new study by anthropologists from University College London (UCL) into smartphone use and impact focusing on older adults in nine countries found that more people now feel the same way about their devices as one conventionally does about their home, the Guardian reports. The excessive use of smartphones, and the sense of familiarity engendered by easily chatting with your loved ones or checking your favourite social media feeds has more or less turned us into “human snails carrying our homes in our pockets,” write the study’s coauthors. The research proposes that smartphones can “challenge the house itself (and possibly also the workplace) in terms of the amount of time we dwell in it while awake.”

The study calls it the “transportal home”: The smartphone now acts as a sort of portal that can instantly transport us inwards, where we can engage in familiar and comforting activities. The fact that this pattern of relationship between person and smartphone is so ubiquitous has been attributed in part to the fact that “the world has grown more restless, with movement resulting from migration, work patterns, better transport, and multiple other factors” becoming commonplace. The idea of home as a single location now seems outdated, with most people using their smartphone as the device with which to connect with distantly located people who make up their emotional sense of home.

But this “always on, always on you” connectivity is eroding our ability to have deeper, more spontaneous conversations with others: Though smartphones once held the promise of better connectivity, our devices are making us way less attentive to the people closest to us. Individuals in the same room are worlds apart while using their smartphones. This flagrant rupture of conventional etiquette has been altering the very divide between what’s public and private — a phenomenon that’s causing what researchers call the "death of proximity," of face-to-face interaction, among all age groups.

Is this because we’re increasingly phubbing? Let's face it — chances are you have been phubbed (phone-snubbed) or were a phubber at least once in your life. Phubbing — an act that has proven to help turn you into a social pariah — manifests itself in abruptly pulling out your cell phone at the dinner table or in the middle of a conversation, bringing about the frustration and offence termed the “death of proximity” by the study. “We’re learning to live with the jeopardy that even when we’re physically together, we can be socially, emotionally or professionally alone,” Daniel Miller, who led the study, tells the Guardian.

Chat apps have been leading the shift: The rules of social interaction have been redrawn in the age of chat apps such as WhatsApp, Line and WeChat, according to the study which describes these mobile messaging services as the “heart of the smartphone.” Such tools have made it much easier to stay in touch over long distances, while being easy to use.

The spike in the use of online messaging was partially due to covid, as populations under lockdown across different parts of the world tried to stay connected. April 2020 survey data from UK-based consulting firm Kantar found that Facebook-owned WhatsApp saw the instant messaging market’s greatest gains in usage — an estimated 40% increase — since the pandemic began.

Remember, smartphones may be a breeding ground for some real life conflict: These little glass and metal devices can arguably instigate a number of work and social problems as smartphones further encroach upon our personal lives. Business communication platforms, including Slack, Microsoft Teams and Flock, along with the various social media apps that have been hitting global markets at a rapid pace, are likely to “reduce the prior experience of home as a refuge. Employees may now be expected to remain in contact with their work, for instance, even after leaving the workplace,” UCL’s study shows. And smartphones are not to blame, says Miller, there are both good and bad aspects of having that technology in our lives. However, the most critical aspect is how we, as humans, choose to use them.

THE MACRO PICTURE

IEA calls for halting new oil and gas exploration projects

The International Energy Agency (IEA) is calling for an end to new oil and gas exploration to achieve net zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 and meet the Paris Agreement goals, the IEA said in its Net Zero by 2050 roadmap for the energy sector.

This is a pretty big rethink for an organization that the Financial Times dubs the West’s “oil watchdog.” The IEA says that these targets will require increasing annual energy investments from USD 2 tn to USD 5 tn by 2030, the bulk of which will be in clean energy, said IEA chief Fatih Birol. Demand for coal would need to drop by 90%, oil demand would need to shrink by 75%, and natural gas demand must drop to half by 2050, the report says.

It isn’t calling for an end to hydrocarbons though: Although exploration should stop, “continued investment in existing sources of oil production are needed,” the IEA said.

The IEA’s road map is in direct odds with Europe’s biggest oil producers, all of which have climate plans that include seeking out and developing oil and gas fields for years to come, Bloomberg reports

“Countries whose economies are relying on oil and gas revenues will face huge challenges,” adds Birol. Oil producing countries have long argued that investment in new fossil fuel projects was needed to meet the demand of emerging economies in Asia and Africa, but the IEA’s model is more severe than producers have prepared for, the salmon colored paper suggests.

CALENDAR

16-19 May (Sunday-Wednesday): The Arabian Travel Market (ATM) takes place in Dubai.

17-20 May (Monday-Thursday): Avior-HC Egypt Virtual Conference.

18-20 May (Tuesday-Thursday): Renaissance Capital’s annual MENA Investor Conference.

20 May (Thursday): Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias will be in Cairo for talks with FM Sameh Shoukry as part of a three-day regional tour amid the ongoing escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

20-28 May (Thursday-Friday): Gouna International Squash Open 2021.

26 May (Wednesday): Final day for Africa-based startups to apply for the French government-sponsored AFD Digital Challenge (pdf).

27-29 May (Thursday-Saturday): Informa Markets’ Nextmove real estate exhibition, Cairo International Convention Center, Nasr City.

30 May (Sunday): Al Mal GTM is organizing the Portfolio Egypt conference under the theme ‘Growth under the weight of the pandemic.’

31 May (Monday): Egypt is hosting Trescon Global’s World AI Show with the support of ITIDA.

17 June (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

17-20 June (Thursday-Sunday) : The International Exhibition of Materials and Technologies for Finishing and Construction (Turnkey Expo), Cairo International Conference Center.

22-27 June (Tuesday-Sunday): The CIB PSA World Tour Finals for 2020-2021 will take place in Cairo.

24 June (Thursday): End of the 2020-2021 academic year (public schools).

26-29 June (Saturday-Tuesday): The Big 5 Construct Egypt, Cairo International Convention Center, Cairo, Egypt.

30 June (Wednesday): The IMF will complete a second review of targets set under the USD 5.2 bn standby loan approved in June 2020 (proposed date).

30 June (Wednesday): 30 June Revolution Day.

30 June- 15 July: National Book Fair.

July + August: Thanaweya Amma exams take place.

1 July: (Thursday): National holiday in observance of 30 June Revolution.

1 July (Thursday): Large taxpayers that have not yet signed on on to the e-invoicing platform will suffer a host of penalties, including removal from large taxpayer classification, losing access to government services and business, and losing subsidies.

1 July (Thursday): Businesses importing goods at seaports will need to file shipping documents and cargo data digitally to the Advance Cargo Information (ACI) system.

15 June (Saturday): EGX-listed will have to complete filing their financial disclosures for the period ended 31 March.

19 July (Monday): Arafat Day (national holiday).

20-23 July (Tuesday-Friday): Eid Al Adha (national holiday).

23 July (Friday): Revolution Day (national holiday).

5 August (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

9 August (Monday): Islamic New Year.

12 August (Thursday): National holiday in observance of the Islamic New Year.

12-15 September (Sunday-Wednesday): Sahara Expo: the 33rd International Agricultural Exhibition for Africa and the Middle East.

16 September (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

30 September-2 October (Thursday-Saturday): Egypt Projects 2021 expo, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo, Egypt.

30 September-8 October (Thursday-Friday): The Cairo International Fair, Cairo International Conference Center, Cairo, Egypt.

1 October (Friday): Expo 2020 Dubai opens.

6 October (Wednesday): Armed Forces Day.

7 October (Thursday): National holiday in observance of Armed Forces Day.

12-14 October (Tuesday-Thursday): Mediterranean Offshore Conference, Alexandria, Egypt.

18 October (Monday): Prophet’s Birthday.

21 October (Thursday): National holiday in observance of the Prophet’s Birthday.

28 October (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

1-3 November (Monday-Wednesday): Egypt Energy exhibition on power and renewable energy, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo, Egypt.

1-12 November (Monday-Friday): 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), Glasgow, United Kingdom.

29 November-2 December (Monday-Thursday): Egypt Defense Expo.

13-17 December: United Nations Convention against Corruption, Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.

16 December (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

14-16 February 2022 (Monday-Wednesday): Egypt Petroleum Show, Egypt International Exhibition Center, New Cairo, Egypt.

1H2022: The World Economic Forum annual meeting, location TBD.

May 2022: Investment in Logistics Conference, Cairo, Egypt.

27 June-3 July 2022 (Monday-Sunday): World University Squash Championships, New Giza.

**Note to readers: Some national holidays may appear twice above. Since 2020, Egypt has observed most mid-week holidays on Thursdays regardless of the day on which they fall and may also move those days to Sundays. We distinguish below between the actual holiday and its observance.

Enterprise is a daily publication of Enterprise Ventures LLC, an Egyptian limited liability company (commercial register 83594), and a subsidiary of Inktank Communications. Summaries are intended for guidance only and are provided on an as-is basis; kindly refer to the source article in its original language prior to undertaking any action. Neither Enterprise Ventures nor its staff assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy of the information contained in this publication, whether in the form of summaries or analysis. © 2021 Enterprise Ventures LLC.

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