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Expert opinion
15 June 2022

TXF Lisbon: Top takeaways and DoY awards results

Export & Agency, Insurance
Europe , Americas, Middle East & Africa, Asia-Pacific
We take a quick look at some of the top takeaways from the biggest gathering of the export and project finance community in the world, TXF Global Export, Agency and Project Finance 2022, and the results of the export finance Deals of the Year awards.

The TXF Global Export, Agency and Project Finance – one of our flagship events took place in Lisbon, Portugal last week. The hybrid event hosted over 800 physical attendees from 55 countries and 385 companies and institutions. A further 290 people tuned in virtually.

This annual event (albeit in different European locations) - which gathers corporate borrowers and exporters, ECAs, banks, insurers, lawyers and others from around the world - aims to highlight the most prevalent trends facing the export finance market, and how these challenges can be overcome and opportunities realised.

It was certainly an excellent time for all concerned to be together again in an open format and that jubilance was clear to see in both formal and social sessions of the event. The previous event, in Madrid in October 2021, was still restricted for many in the industry, but this time round the only major absentees seemed to be from Asia. However, with the TXF Asia Export Finance Conference taking place 13-14 September in Singapore it can be expected that attendance there will also be high.

Naturally, in Lisbon networking was of prime importance. These are the events where contacts are made and deals are done. In addition, some 26 of the banks and institutions present had separate meeting rooms to meet clients and discuss team issues. It was business busy!

Here we will review some of the key takeaways from the Lisbon event. We will also take a quick look at the results of the TXF Export Finance Deals of the Year awards which were presented at the end of day one of the conference. A much more comprehensive article on the export finance deals of the year is available for TXF subscribers on the TXF website.

Lisbon top takeaways

Urgent reform to the OECD Consensus is needed

OECD Consensus reforms are urgently needed. This is, as many of you will recognise, something of a recurring takeaway unfortunately. It is blatantly obvious that something is fundamentally wrong as the clamour for reform is now at crescendo pitch! The minimal changes that have been made by the OECD over the past few years are simply not sufficient to meet the needs of the modern, and fast-changing market. As one ECA executive put it: “The biggest game in town is the much-needed change to the OECD ‘Arrangement’.”

It is correct to say that some temporary changes have taken place over the past couple of years although these have been largely to compensate for conditions around Covid. But that is just scratching the surface and major changes are required if companies and institutions within OECD countries are expected to compete with those in non-OECD countries. Beyond that, there are just so many ridiculous ‘rules’/’guidelines’ within the ‘Arrangement’ that are simply out of touch with business reality today. 

A proper overhaul of the common approaches is required so that the Arrangement is genuinely ‘fit-for-purpose’. Exporters in key sectors, for example – electricity distribution and grid development - are crying out for tenors to be pushed out. Elsewhere, a proper rethink on the premiums required for deals with less-developed countries is widely sought. In addition, increased flexibility around downpayment financings and sector agreement updates have been widely requested.

Additionally, the recent OECD proposals to change the rulings to the current CIRR guidelines have run into some stiff criticism. Critics say that less-developed countries, particularly those in sub-Saharan Africa will be particularly disadvantaged. One delegate commented: “These OECD proposals will raise costs for social projects in less-developed countries.” The new rules are set to come into force in July 2023. Opponents to the changes are hoping that the OECD will be open to discussion on changes to the proposals.  

Sustainability within export finance is now the buzz word! 

Projects that can demonstrate clear sustainable credentials will get priority status in the financing pipeline within banks and with agencies. Many financiers are keen to push through sustainable deals and re-balance portfolios that for too long have been overloaded with fossil-fuel transactions.

Currently, TXF Data has indicated that 30% of ECA-backed business can be classified as sustainable. The audience in Lisbon were asked what percentage of ECA-backed deals would be sustainable in five years’ time – and 28% voted that the figure of sustainable deals would increase to at least 50%, and 21% said that it would likely rise to at least 60%. On the other hand, some 21% said quite conservatively that sustainable volumes would only have gone up to 40%. However, one delegate commented that these outlooks were hardly ambitious given our drive to net-zero by 2050.

What many in the industry would like to see is better treatment for sustainable deals under the OECD guidelines. This would involve favourable consideration with premiums and extended tenors, in particular.

The ICC Whitepaper on Sustainable Export Finance, published late last year, has been a big driver on the whole issue of sustainability in the sector, and will continue to do so as various recommendations are taken on board.

Common definitions and standards required

The identification of common definitions and standards for sustainable practices looks set to become a major theme within export finance over the coming years. Yes, we already have LMA Green Loans, and the Equator Principles, but these do not cover all that is done in the market. Many bankers are increasingly concerned that there is too much ‘greenwashing’ taking place and that without proper guidelines certain so-called ‘green’ and ‘social’ deals will be rubber-stamped without proper checks.

Third-party verification by independent assessors is fast becoming a common factor on many projects, which can be a good thing depending on the processes carried out. With certain set standards much of the ambiguity is taken out of the equation. We already have the EU Taxonomy for the classification of sustainable deals and activity, and the consensus seems to be that this should be further built on so there is a global standard that can be put forward.

The recent ICC Whitepaper on Sustainable Export Finance also put forward the need for standard definitions for ‘green’/social export credits. Further development from this quarter can be expected this year.

Much more detailed standards will be needed further down the line however as sectors and industries break into new territory during the energy transition. For example, product certification will be needed on ‘green’ hydrogen in order to properly distinguish it from ‘grey’ and ‘blue’ product.  

Climate change is a key concern for the ECA sector

Climate change is rightly so a key concern for ECAs and their governments, as well as banks. As such, it will increasingly influence their financing decisions and patterns of activity over the coming years. It is estimated that some $53 trillion will be needed in order for the energy transition to take place

One ECA executive stated: “We must come up with financial incentives to help climate change solutions. It must be quick and positive action.” While a banker declared: “We need to move the transition from a challenge to an opportunity.”

It is seen that the Russian war against Ukraine is likely to accelerate the pace of greening, although there will be no ‘plain sailing’ because of the overall complexities of current energy supply. There is a degree of risk that the acceleration will slow down though, and that the war has compressed the timeframe for the transition.

The overwhelming feeling is that both ECAs and banks are starting to adapt and adjust for the transition. To boot, full support will be needed from the financial sector as COP26 was driven by private companies who “have an amazing ability to adapt.” However, going forward a collaborative effort will be required.

Collaboration is the name of the game going forward. 

ECAs, DFIs, banks, exporters and associations must pull together to get deals done as well as help increase the deal pipeline flow. A much stronger collaborative effort will see positive results for all. For many years there has been discussion as to where the new deals for the export credit industry will come from – well the path is clear regarding opportunities within the energy transition, new tech, new sectors and the push for ECA involvement in social projects.

It is telling that the TXF Overall Export Finance Deal of the Year (see below) is a ‘blended finance’ transaction, involving the World Bank, ATI an ECA and commercial banks. The high-profile support provides the ‘comfort’ for others to come into such deals/projects more easily. At the conference it was interesting to hear one European ministry responsible for export finance say that they wanted to try and promote more blended finance – ECAs working with DFIs, as this will help build the pipeline of deals.

As one corporate pointed out: “If we really are going to realise the $53 trillion needed [on the energy transition], we need all the institutions and we need more partnerships, as well as streamlined documentation, in order to mobilise big capital project solutions.”

One ECA executive remarked: “Much more ECA collaboration is required, and this is crucial across the board whether OECD or non-OECD.”

While one export finance banker commented honestly: “Collaboration is key! Closer collaboration between banks and contractors will provide a better understanding of what is needed. Banks are too far behind the curve!” 

Indebtedness remains a concern

High levels of indebtedness is likely to continue to prevent ECA activity in certain emerging markets. This is currently of considerable concern with a number of sub-Saharan African markets. One ECA executive said that this was one of the main things that kept him awake at night.

To bring these markets back into line and to prevent others from falling down the same hole, there is a real need to change how the sector looks at the restructuring debt process. “Debt needs to be looked at properly, and in an equitable way.” And, as one delegate remarked: “It’s time to rethink the architecture of the Paris Club.” Hear, hear! 

Private insurance sector remains calm

Despite the seemingly endless volatile market conditions, the private insurance sector remains remarkably calm. It is well noted that the private market is about to see a major loss event in Russia and Ukraine. But the loss event is not catastrophic for the market at all practitioners maintain. Indeed, most of the losses appear to be going into the aviation market, not the credit and political risk market, by all accounts. Additionally, there is new capacity coming into the market, and tenor capabilities and capacity capabilities are increasing. A growing number of ECAs, exporters and banks are reported to be using the market and it is in a buoyant state.

TXF Export Finance Deals of the Year 

The TXF Perfect 10 – are a time for celebration! Here, we reveal the winners of the Export Finance Deals of the Year, for transactions signed in 2021. Only 10 export finance-related deals win an award each year, which is why we call them the ‘Perfect 10’. Awards were presented to the participants of the winning deals at the end of day one of the conference. Huge congratulations to all the winning deals and all participants, in whatever capacity! This is a very special achievement!

We would like to thank everyone that took the time to submit deals. And to the winners – mega congratulations! 

The text and deal details below are an abridged version of the article which sits on our subscriber only news base - https://www.txfnews.com//News/Article/7400/Revving-it-up-TXF-Export-Finance-Deals-of-the-Year

The TXF winning export finance deals for 2021 are as follows: 

Overall Export Finance Deal of the Year
Winner:  Luanda Bita Water Supply Project

Borrower: Ministry of Finance of Angola
Deal type/volume: $1.08bn ECA and World Bank-backed project financing
Breakdown:  $104.84m Bpifrance-backed facility-1; $910m IBRD/ATI backed facility; $62.4m Bpifrance-backed facility-2
Guarantors: IBRD and ATI
ECA: Bpifrance
MLAs: Standard Chartered, Santander, Société Générale, Crédit Agricole CIB, BNP Paribas, Helaba, Credit Suisse
Exporters: Suez Group, Mota Engil

The Luanda Bita Water Supply Project is a landmark project to improve water supply in the city of Luanda, Angola. This deal gained the most votes in the Tagmydeals voting process as part of the DoY evaluation. It is an interesting winner here as it is very much the epitome of a blended finance transaction – incorporating an ECA, MFIs, international commercial banks and insurers. The deal is one of the largest single term loans provided in 2021 by a consortium of commercial banks to an African sovereign counterparty. The transaction is a worthy winner of this category. 

Africa Export Finance Deal of the Year 
Winner: Ghana Western Railway

Borrower: Ministry of Finance Ghana
Deal type/volume: $725.1m ECA-backed buyer credit
Structure: €523m EKN facility; €75m commercial facility (ECIC-backed)
Reinsurance ECA: SERV
MLA and initial lender: Deutsche Bank
Lead arranger and structuring bank of tied commercial loan: Investec Bank
Lender (SEK facility): SEK
Lenders (commercial facility): Investec Bank, Nedbank, First Rand Bank
EPC contractor: Amandi Investment Limited, Cyprus
Financial adviser to the EPC: Bluebird Finance & Projects 

In what is a key transport infrastructure transaction for Africa, Deutsche Bank, Investec, Swedish export credit agency EKN, Swedish Export Credit Corporation (SEK) and Export Credit Insurance Corporation of South Africa (ECIC) pulled together a landmark financing for the construction of a 100km stretch of Ghana’s Western Railway Line, running from Takoradi Port to Huni Valley. It is the largest ever financed rail investment in Ghana and one of the first sustainable export finance loans in Africa. Crucial to this deal was the involvement of South Africa’s ECIC. It is the first-ever ECIC supported commercial loan. All-in-all, we see this transaction as an excellent winner for this category.  

Americas Export Finance Deal of the Year  
Winner: Panama Metro Line 3 

Borrower: PM3 CNO ACQUISITION, Metro de Panamá
Deal type/volume: $2.01bn ECA-backed buyer credit
ECA (guarantor): K-sure
ECA (direct loan): Kexim
Bookrunners/MLAs: BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole CIB, Citi, Mizuho, Santander, SMBC
EPCs/Exporters: POSCO, Hyundai Engineering & Construction (rolling stock)  

Panama Metro Line No. 3 is a landmark infrastructure transaction in the Latin America region. It was the very first supplier credit transaction covered by K-sure and labelled as a ‘green financing facility’ thanks to the reduction of CO2 emission levels by 20,000 tons per year after construction. The deal is a massively complex financing, with four tranches, supporting a wealth of Korean export contracts, and as such is a triumph for Korean agencies and exporters supported by leading international export finance banks and others.

Asia Export Finance Deal of the Year  
Winner: Bin Qasim Power Station

Borrower: Bin Qasim 3 CCGT
Sponsor: K-Electric
Deal type/volume: $414.4 million ECA-covered corporate finance
Structure:  $123.2 million (Euler Hermes facility); $291.2 million (Sinosure facility)
MLAs: Standard Chartered, China Construction Bank, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, AKA, China Bohai Bank,
Exporters: Siemens AG; Harbin Electric International Company 

Under this deal, Euler Hermes and China’s Sinosure are covering loans for K-Electric Limited, a company based in Pakistan. Proceeds will be used for construction of the 900MW Bin Qasim Power Station (BQPS-3), located in Karachi. This is the largest ever ECA-supported corporate financing in Pakistan. This is a complex financing with two tranches (Euler Hermes and Sinosure support) and seven different lenders from four different jurisdictions. There is a well-structured credit package in addition to the ECA support, and the financing is structured on the basis of secured collections from consumers. This deal is a very rare example where Sinosure stands beside another agency from outside China, and shows that collaboration of the highest order is possible to get deals across the line. The overall power plant deal is considered to be one of the largest private sector investments in Pakistan’s electric power infrastructure and a crucial cog in Pakistan’s provision of power.

Middle East Export Finance Deals of the Year  
Winner: Warsan Waste to Energy Plant

Borrower: Dubai Waste Management Company
Deal type/volume: $952.7 million ECA-backed project financing
ECA (direct loan): JBIC
ECA (guarantor): Nexi
MLAs: Standard Chartered, SMBC, Société Générale, Mizuho, KfW IPEX-Bank, Crédit Agricole CIB, Siemens Bank
Sponsors: Itochu Corporation, Hitachi Zosen Corporation Group, Besix, Dubai Holdings Operations Group, Dubai Holding, Tech Group Dubai 

The financing of the 200MW Warsan Dubai Waste-to-Energy project is the first PPP project to be procured by Dubai Municipality. The deal received strong voting through Tagmydeals. Structured via SPV Dubai Waste Management Company, the financing has a 25-year tenor and comprises a $452 million tranche from JBIC; a $380 million tranche guaranteed by Nexi and provided by Mizuho, SMBC, Standard Chartered, Societe Generale, Credit Agricole, and KfW IPEX-Bank; and a $95 million uncovered tranche from several of the commercial banks in the lending group. When completed, the plant will be able to process as much as 1.9 million tonnes of waste per year. Project completion is expected in 2024. The project is a key element in Dubai’s waste management programme. 

Healthcare Export Finance Deal of the Year
Winner: NMS Hospital Project Cote d’Ivoire

Borrower: Ministry of Economy and Finance of the Republic of Ivory Coast
Deal type/volume: €293.3 million ECA-backed buyer credit + commercial loan
Breakdown: €241 million UKEF loan (50% direct and 50% buyer credit) €52.3 million commercial loan
ECA (guarantor and direct loan): UKEF
EPC: NMS Infrastructure Ltd
ECA advisor to the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire: GKB Ventures
Arranger/agent: MUFG
Lenders (ECA-backed facility): MUFG, ODDO BHF, CaixaBank, DZ Bank, Aegon
Lenders (commercial loan): MUFG, Rand Merchant Bank, Nedbank, London Forfaiting 

Within this landmark transaction, UK Export Finance (UKEF) support was crucial in securing the project financing for the construction of six hospitals in Cote d’Ivoire. This is the largest ever export financing for UKEF in Francophone Africa, and also UKEF’s first transaction in Cote d’Ivoire. With a fixed direct funding rate of 0.32% this is believed to be the lowest coupon long-term UKEF funded project in Africa. The UKEF direct loan (which is structured to amortise after the buyer credit tranche) was essential to ensuring that this vital health project could be fully funded on affordable terms during what was an extremely volatile funding market. The project is one of extremely high priority for the government of Côte d’Ivoire as is the issue of long-dated, low-cost financing. Raising the commercial loan in advance of the UKEF tranche allowed the project to proceed quickly whilst providing full price transparency to the MoF across both tranches of the financing. 

Shipping Export Finance Deal of the Year  
Winner: Seaspan Corporation

Deal A
Borrower: Seaspan Corporation (via SPV)
Deal type/volume: $633 million  
ECA (guarantor): Sinosure
Global coordinator and lead bookrunner: HSBC
MLAs: HSBC, Citi, Bank of China, BNP Paribas, Société Générale, Deutsche Bank, ING Bank
Exporter: Yangzijiang Shipbuilding – 8 vessels

Deal B

Borrower: Seaspan Corporation (via SPV)
Deal type/volume: $1.08 billion  
ECA (guarantor): Kexim/K-sure
Breakdown: Tranche1: $542.6m K-sure-backed; Tranche2: $267m Kexim-backed; Tranche3 $267.8m Kexim direct loan
Global Coordinator/lead bookrunner: Citi
MLAs: Citi, Bank of America, Bank of China, Société Générale, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, Korea Development Bank (KDB)
Exporter: Samsung Heavy Industries – 10 vessels 

Seaspan closed two first-of-their-kind ECA-backed Jolco financings in 2021 for 18 containerships of its newbuild programme: a $633m Sinosure-backed Jolco financing on 8x vessels; and a $1.08m K-sure and Kexim-backed Jolco financing on 10x vessels. These transactions are a landmark in the shipping finance sector as they are the first-of-their-kind transactions where ECAs provide export buyer credit insurance for a shipping Jolco structure. It is a also a long time since TXF has had such important container vessel financings to consider. The Jolco structure is an attractive source of financing for shipowners allowing them to syndicate the equity via Japanese equity investors (who long for yield and diversified fixed asset investments) with a lower capital cost compared with the shipowners’ own cost of equity. Jolco structure can only kick in at vessel delivery and can kick out during the financing tenor at the option of Seaspan. In the 40-year history of Jolco structures, an ECA financing and a Jolco have never been successfully combined in shipping until this deal. The financing documentation incorporates all requirements with respect to the Poseidon Principles. 

Renewables Export Finance Deal of the Year  
Winner: Changhua 1 & 2a Offshore Wind

Borrower: Mercury Taiwan Holdings
Sponsor: Orsted
Deal type/volume: $2.76bn  
Structure: 9 tranches – see data in Tagmydeals
ECAs: EKF, UKEF, K-sure, Atradius, (EDC as lender)
MLAs: Korea Development Bank, Siemens Bank, Taipei Fubon Commercial Bank, ChinaTrust Bank, Cathay United Bank, HSBC, BNP Paribas, Standard Chartered, Crédit Agricole CIB, Société Générale, DZ Bank, SMBC,Taipei Fubon Commercial Bank Co, Taiwan Life Insurance, ChinaTrust Bank, E Sun Commercial Bank, Deutsche Bank, Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation, EDC - Export Development Canada
EPCs: Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy, TCC, Star Energies, CSBC (Taiwan International Shipbuilding), Jan De Nul, Hitachi, WoenJinn Harbor Engineering, EGST, Sing Da Marine Structure Corporation, Century Wind Power 

The Taiwanese drive to a renewables electricity-generated future keeps pushing the boundaries. And this latest mega-financing for the Changhua 1 and 2a offshore project not only shows the determination in place from the authorities, but also the attractiveness of such projects to international investors. Interestingly, the Changhua 1 and 2a offshore project accounted for over two-thirds of Asia’s sustainability ECA-backed volumes, according to TXF Intelligence. The financing consists of a whopping $2.76 billion multisource ECA-backed package with nine tranches overall. To pull together such mega-financings is a challenge for financiers, insurers and legal teams alike. With five ECAs coming into the deal overall, and support from a wealth of international, regional and local banks the deal demonstrates just how keen financial institutions are to part of the renewables journey. This transaction is a worthy winner of the ECA-baked renewables category. 

Mining Export Finance Deal of the Year  
Winner: Mantoverde Copper Mine

Borrower: Mantoverde
Sponsors: Orion Mine Finance, Audley Capital Advisors, Mitsubishi Materials Corporation
Deal type/volume: $571.6 million ECA-backed buyer credit/bond
ECA (guarantor): Finnvera
ECA (direct loan): Export Finance Australia
Bookrunners: Export Finance Australia, BNP Paribas, Natixis, ING Bank, Société Générale, MUFG Bank
MLA: BNP Paribas Fortis, Société Générale, Citi, Bank of America, Bank of China, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, Korea Development Bank (KDB), Banco de Credito e Inversiones
EPC contractor: Ausenco Chile Ltda
Offtaker: Boliden, MMC 

With copper being a key metal for existing and new industries and few big-scale investments in brownfield copper operations in the past few years, the importance of this financing for the Mantoverde copper mine project in Chile is clear to see. Here, Mantoverde secured an $846.6 million financing package to fully fund the development of its Sulphide Development Project, in the Atacama region of Chile. This is a large-scale project, with a material impact in job creation, contribution to Chile’s GDP and it will also help contribute to bridging the global copper supply gap once operational. Additionally, the project was financed by a group of lenders without a traditional completion guarantee provided by the sponsors, which highlights the credit strength of the transaction structure and experience of the construction contractor and sponsor group. The project will consist of the expansion of existing (i) oxide pits, (ii) tailing storage facility, (iii) desalination plant, and (iv) ancillary works related to expansion; as well as the construction of a new concentrator plant. The deal is a worthy winner of the Mining Export Finance Deal of the Year.     

Rail Transport Export Finance Deal of the Year  
Winner: Ankara-Izmir High-Speed Railway

Borrower: Ministry of Treasury & Finance, Turkey
Deal type/volume: €2.4bn
Breakdown: €2.13bn UKEF-backed buyer credit; €324.39m commercial loan
ECA (guarantor): UKEF
Reinsurance ECAs: SERV, Sace, OeKB
MLAs (UKEF facility): Standard Chartered, Credit Suisse, BNP Paribas, Santander, Société Générale, Lloyds Bank, LBBW, JP Morgan Chase, ING Bank, Deutsche Bank, Commerzbank, HSBC, UniCredit
Lenders (UKEF facility): Helaba, DZ Bank, BBVA, KfW IPEX-Bank
Lenders (commercial facility): Credit Suisse, Standard Chartered, Société Générale, Finansbank, ICBC, Turkiye Vakiflar Bankasi, Bank of China, Turkiye is Bankasi (Isbank), Turkiye Garanti Bankasi
EPC contractor: Ankara-Izmir YHT Yapımı Is Ortaklıgı – incorporating: ERG International UK, ERG Insaat Ticaret ve Sanayi, and SSB Sauerwein & Schaefert 

In December 2021, the government of Turkey signed a €2.4 billion package to finance the construction of a 503.2 km high-speed rail connecting Ankara, the capital of Turkey to Izmir, the third largest city. The project is part of Turkey's masterplan to develop a 10,000 km network of high-speed rail lines by 2023. The deal is the largest ECA-backed rail financing of 2021. It is also the largest rail financing signed by UKEF, and a significant commercial contract for UK and sister companies. Switzerland’s SERV, Italy’s Sace and Austria’s OeKB are acting as reinsurers, thus reducing the risk to the UK taxpayer. The project, with a total value of €2.4 billion, was awarded to ERG International UK in October 2020 and will help to alleviate traffic congestion and reduce CO2 emissions by providing an alternative to current air and road routes, and therefore allowing the transaction to be classified as ‘green loan’ under LMA’s Green Loan Principles.

Additional DoY notes: This year, the TXF Export Finance Deals of the Year (for deals closed in 2021) was a particularly hard-fought affair. Deal submissions came in thick and fast for this year’s competition. Deals already sitting on TXF’s data base at tagmydeals.com that had been submitted by banks during the course of the year were also taken into consideration. Overall there was plenty of interesting and innovative transactions to vote on and assess by the senior editorial team. As ever, there were a good number of transactions signed off in December 2021, and as such we had deal submissions right up to the wire. 

We first requested deal submissions (for deals closed in 2021) back in early December 2021, and the submission deadline was extended to the end of the first week in February 2022. Deal data is entered into our data base (www.tagmydeals.com), along with deals already existing there from deals submitted throughout the year by market players. Voting for individual deals, also via tagmydeals, took place up until the end of the second week in March. Deals were then assessed overall through a combination of votes and through senior editorial team evaluation. 

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