Monday, 1 April 2019

Agrokor Enters Realm of the Past as Fortenova's Operations Begin

Two years ago, Ivica Todorić signed Lex Agrokor, handing over the control of his gigantic company to the control of the state in an attempt to save it from collapsing. Since then, the largest restructuring in this part of Europe has taken place, a tumultuous phase we are now coming to the end of.

As Agrokor and all of its tremendous woes finally enter the realms of Croatia's business history, Fortenova begins its operations on a clean(er) slate.

As Jadranka Dozan/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 1st of April, 2019, as of today, which was already publicly announced by the former Agrokor as the date of the beginning of the settlement, Fortenova Group, the company's brand new name, begins its work. Yesterday, all Konzums were closed for the day, and a new chapter has now begun.

From the technical-operational aspect, the most visible test of the success of the enormous amount of preparatory actions for this "business migration" will be shown today in Konzum. From a normative aspect, all of the necessary enforcement documents were completed late last week. Fabris Peruško, the company's government appointed extraordinary commissioner and the temporary creditor's council agreed their final texts on Thursday. On Friday, just one day later, the Commercial Court in Zagreb issued a statement, and Judge Nevenka Siladi Rstić then issued a decision and approved the aforementioned documents.

Two days before, the conclusion was published explicitly specified the role(s) of the temporary creditor's council and the extraordinary commissioner in the further IU procedure, which could take a further three years. There was obviously a disagreement when it came to the terms of the need for harmonisation of the final acts between Fabris Peruško and the temporary creditor's council, so the session of the creditor's council lasted for two days.

Until the end of the procedure, the creditor's council now has the right and the duty (along with the court) to monitor how business is being done, supervise the execution of the settlement, and Peruško's work, including overseeing payment statements, checking account turnovers, and approving decisions in the settlement's further implementation.

Make sure to follow our dedicated business page for much more.


Click here for the original article by Jadranka Dozan for Poslovni Dnevnik


Saturday, 30 March 2019

US Portal Publishes List - Serbia More Powerful Than Croatia?

One American portal has published its list of the most powerful countries in the world, where of course, the USA comes in first place, while Croatia is ranked in a rather uninspiring 75th place. Rather more disappointingly still, it seems tha the portal has ranked Serbia in a much higher position than Croatia, in spite of Croatia's EU membership, which at least for now, appears to be a far-away dream for Serbia.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/VLM writes on the 29th of March, 2019, as was reported by U.S. The News & World Report, known for its somewhat controversial lists of top colleges and hospitals, published its list of the best countries based on the opinions of more than 20,000 people from across four different regions.

Within the list of the best countries, a podium of the most powerful countries was also published based on five determinants: leaders, economic influence, political influence, international alliances, and armed forces.

The top nine most powerful countries have remained the same as last year. The first is naturally America, described as the largest economy in the world and the country with the largest military budget.

Following are Russia and China, which are also at the top in terms of their spending on their armed forces. Then there are the long-reigning top European powers - Germany, Great Britain, and France.

The seventh place comes the economic giant Japan, followed by Israel, Saudi Arabia and South Korea, which made the jump from last year's 11th place.

The Republic of Croatia also jumped by one place, from 76th to 75th out of a total of 80 places, while this isn't particularly impressive in itself, the portal has listed it at number 30 in ''overall rankings''.

''Croatia has found itself at the crossroads of major historical movements, both East and West. These political shifts have uniquely shaped its present-day borders, which curve around Bosnia and Herzegovina in central Europe and stretch along the Adriatic Sea opposite Italy. The nation’s stunning Mediterranean coastline eases into the rugged Dinaric Alps and, continuing northeast, the fertile plains of the Danube River,'' the portal writes.

Countries are ranked in different categories, from being open to business, to how much holding citizenship means, to heritage, to cultural influence and even adventure prospects. While Croatia has done well in terms of ''adventure'', its ''power'' and ''quality of life'' statistics leave a lot to be desired for, at least according to this American portal.

Of our neighbours, Slovenia is in 78th place, Hungary 71st place, while Serbia is in a considerably higher 52nd place.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle page for much more.


Click here for the original article by VLM on Poslovni Dnevnik

Friday, 29 March 2019

Silence Reigns as Bankruptcy Knocks on Uljanik's Frail Door

At the start of the enfeebled Uljanik's bigger problems, the Croatian Government's view was either restructuring or bankruptcy, and now there's no time to devise any sort of new solution.

As Marija Brnic/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 28th of March, 2019, the government rejected the offer of strategic partner Brodosplit for Uljanik's restructuring, and thus, although the prime minister tried to avoid actually saying it, a process that would have a domino effect on all the companies operating within the Pula-based group system was launched.

The fact that there is no longer a strategic partner for Uljanik, which was the main argument for the postponement of the opening of bankruptcy proceedings in the previous proceedings on the 3 Maj shipyard and Uljanik's other companies, is changing the situation and it is now clear that no matter how much room the government initially left for some possible new solutions, the judge in Pazin doesn't have much of a choice today and will determine that the conditions for declaring bankruptcy for the Uljanik shipyard are now fulfilled. Such a decision automatically withdraws what the Rijeka court stated and opens bankruptcy proceedings for the 3 Maj shipyard.

All the speculations that there could be another possibility for Uljanik, for which Prime Minister Andrej Plenković left space in his statement, are empty stories, not only because of the fact that right at the very beginning of Uljanik's growing woes, the government's position was that the only possible scenarios for Uljanik's rescue were restructuring or bankruptcy, but also because of the fact that now, there is definitely no more time available to come up with a new solution for the burdened shipyard. When it comes to the question of the possibility of the continuation of shipbuilding in Pula and Rijeka as a whole, the key question remains the same - how many ships could buyers actually be found for, and then arrive other questions regarding financing through bankruptcy.

Two ships that are now in their final stages of construction in Pula were de facto detained over the past few days by the company's emotionally exhausted employees, and Uljanik's workers aren't finishing the job, because "other" workers, not from that shipyard, are working on Scenic's polar cruiser, while Jan de Nul is awaiting the government's decision to pay the requested difference of 22 million euros and to take over and finish it in Trieste, Italy.

From Pula, the request was for the completion of construction to be carried out in Uljanik, but the government didn't even discuss that yesterday, so it remains unknown as to whether the Ministry of Finance has worked to meet the necessary conditions, and if so, when it intends to pay any price differences and deal with the issue of the contracted vessels.

Although it's quite impossible to describe the situation surrounding Uljanik and Croatian shipbuilding as a whole as anything remotely positive, its rather lucky, analysts agree, that all of this happened and seems to have finally reached its peak in a year in which a surplus was recorded, but that doesn't minimise the issues Uljanik faces, nor does it even begin to confront the shipyard's overworked and well and truly underpaid employees.

The interesting thing which always happens in Croatia is the intertwining of business and politics. Just like with the messy Agrokor situation that has dominated the Croatian media for the past couple of years, there is always a political element, and if there isn't really one, someone will make you believe there is. The Istrian Democratic Party (IDS) has accused the Croatian Government of purposely trying to cause issues by using the Uljanik saga to its benefit, even claiming that the ''government's lack of action and indecisiveness'' is an attempt to destabilise Istria.

Make sure to stay up to date by following our dedicated business and politics pages for much more.


Click here for the original article by Marija Brnic for Poslovni Dnevnik

Thursday, 21 March 2019

New Parking Cameras Coming to Rijeka, One Already in Operation

One of the City of Rijeka's biggest problems is the parking situation. Just like many other cities across Croatia, sometimes drivers are left with little choice other than to get a bit creative with how and where they leave their car, but that harmless couple of minutes in which you think you'll get away with leaving it parked where it shouldn't be could cost you thanks to Rijeka's new cameras.

Just when you thought Big Brother couldn't possibly think of anything else, he does. New parking cameras have found their way to Rijeka, and some of them even send photos of your crime directly to the police while you remain clueless. One trial camera is already in operation in the city.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 21st of March, 2019, failure to comply with traffic regulations when it comes to improper parking is still being listed as one of the biggest problems in Rijeka according to the traffic directorate's data for the year 2018, Novi list writes.

Given the fact that no new job positions will be opened and therefore no new employees will take up work, there will still be twenty employees in Rijeka's city administration. Therefore, the City of Rijeka plans to quickly set up five quality high-resolution cameras in numerous places across Rijeka's city centre to keep a watchful eye on any unsuspecting drivers who are illegally parked at bus stops or at delivery places and drop-off points.

One test camera is already in operation at Fiumara and the system is allegedly working very well, despite the fact (in reality, especially because) drivers who have parked illegally are still blissfully unaware that their vehicle's license plates are being photographed and that the system then sends the images any any additional data directly to the traffic police in order to have the appropriate punishment written out.

Make sure to follow our dedicated news and lifestyle pages for much more.

Monday, 18 March 2019

Could Dubrovnik's Beloved Srđ Cable Car Face Closure?

The Pearl of the Adriatic is known for its wealth of natural beauty in addition to its rich list of historical and cultural attractions. Dubrovnik is visited by millions from around the world year on year, and in addition to its magnificent walls, which are among the most impressive Medieval structures which are still standing today in Europe, its cable car which attracts seemingly endless queues during the summer months is unarguably among its top tourist attractions.

While the typical ''fights'' about Dubrovnik's cable car are almost identical to those frequently had over the old city walls - the price, there appears to be much more going on under the surface when it comes to perhaps the most expensive three minute ride you'll ever take.

For a single adult, a mere three minute cable car ride from just above the Old City of Dubrovnik to the top of mount Srđ and back comes with a price tag of 150 kuna. Dubrovnik's locals get it cheaper, however many avoid the cable car entirely, opting instead to hike or drive up the rugged 412 metre mountain which towers over the city.

Srđ is, despite the apparently eternally increasing cost of the use of the cable car, a unique must-see location when in Dubrovnik. The mountain provides stunning views over the extreme south of Dalmatia, the sparkling Adriatic sea and the Elaphite islands (Lopud, Koločep (Kalamota) and Šipan), and when turning around, a view over the mountainous and somewhat baron interior of neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina, the border of which is extremely close to Dubrovnik (Ivanica).

In addition, a restaurant and the Homeland War Museum sits at the top of Srđ, housed in an unassuming Napoleonic building known as Fort Imperijal. The museum should be visited by all those wanting to learn more and pay their respects to the sacrifice made by Dubrovnik's brave defenders during the Yugoslav and Serbo-Montenegrin attacks on the UNESCO protected city in the not so distant past.

Alright, now we're done talking about Srđ as a destination, let's get to the point. 150 kuna per ride or not, it seems that one of Dubrovnik's top attractions, the cable car, could be threatened with closure, according to a report from RTL vijesti (news).

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 18th of March, 2019, according to Dubrovnik's mayor Mato Franković, DORH (State Attorney's Office of the Republic of Croatia) has given the somewhat ''famous'' Lukšić family company until the first April to pay huge compensation to the City of Dubrovnik and to the state, and to sign a concession agreement. Otherwise, the iconic cable car will be suspended.

A 150 kuna price tag for a three minute ride up a mountain is a bit steep (no pun intended, well, maybe a bit), and as prices for some of Dubrovnik's main attractions continue to rise, many tourists are beginning to become disillusioned with the Pearl of the Adriatic's offer. "For 150 kuna, I think the ride is too short, but the view is fantastic," said Indian tourists Karthi and Sushma.

It is precisely that beautiful view that makes the cable car as popular of an attraction as it is, and there is always row after row of tourists standing along the poorly laid out street with no shade (which also acts as a bus stop for regular city buses and for the airport shuttle) regardless of the ticket price.

The cable car's turnover stands at about 60 million kuna per year, Excelsa real estate accounts for about 65 percent of the net profit, while the City of Dubrovnik has apparently never even received even one kuna in revenue from the cable car. Could all that be about to change in a matter of mere days? Apparently so.

Make sure to follow our dedicated business and news pages for more. If it's just Dubrovnik and the extreme south of Dalmatia you're interested in, give Total Dubrovnik a follow.

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Sberbank's Maksim Poletajev Will Be At ''New'' Agrokor's Head

Daniel Boehi, Miodrag Borojević, Paul Foley, Kelly Griffith, Maxim Poletajev, Jullian Michael Simmons, Sergey Volk and Fabris Peruško are a list of names that will enter the ''new'' Agrokor, or Fortenova's management.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 15th of March, 2019, Sberbank's Maksim Poletajev will be the head of Fortenova's board of directors, as was decided upon by the concern's owners during meeting in London, Večernji list writes.

At the moment, this information remains unofficial and should be confirmed at the end of March, when new functions will be recorded in the Court Registry of companies. Namely, on the first day of April, the Fortenova Group, formerly Agrokor, will be chaired by a board of nine directors and an executive board consisting of three members. Daniel Boehi, Miodrag Borojević, Paul Foley, Kelly Griffith, Maxim Poletaev, Jullian Michael Simmons, Sergey Volk and Fabris Peruško, Agrokor's current extraordinary administrator, are already known.

Maxim Poletajev of Russia's Sberbank, will be at the helm of this body which will make all strategic decisions on the involved companies.

This body decides on the selling and acquiring part of the business, appointments, and other major contracts. Along with Poletajev as a representative of Sberbank, the largest shareholder, which has a 39.2 percent stake in the new ownership structure, Sergey Volk will also enter the body, who as a member of the temporary creditors' council has been present within Agrokor since the very beginning of the extraordinary administration process. Both bankers are well acquainted with the opportunities within Agrokor, over the past two years they have become well acquainted with Agrokor's suppliers and most of the owners of major Croatian companies.

In an interview with Večernji list, Poletajev announced that the company, which will continue to operate under Fortenova's name, will boast some powerful management names.

For now, all operating company directors have retained their positions in mirror companies, and some very powerful names are set to enter the board of directors. Miodrag Borojević is certainly one of them. He currently runs the O'KEY Group, one of the leading retail chains in Russia, and also boasts an exceedingly rich career in the sector. He was the director of REWE Italy, which was rescued during his mandate, he has also operated Kaufland's business in Romania, Croatia, Bulgaria, Slovakia and in the Czech Republic.

Foley has valuable long-standing experience in large retail chains and has been leading the large chain of Aldi in his career and is now in the Magnitum Management, a Russian chain where VTB Bank, which owns about seven percent of the new Fortenova, bought and sold shares from February to May 2018.

The board of directors also includes a workers' representative whose name is as yet unknown. The executive board of directors who will operate the company will have three members, Fabris Peruško, Irena Weber and a member who will be responsible for finances, their name is as yet is unknown.

Make sure to follow our dedicated business page for much more on Agrokor.

Friday, 15 March 2019

Vienna Highlights That Croatia's Awareness of Digitalisation is Lacking

As Bernard Ivezic/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 14th of March, 2019, the Austrian capital of Vienna boasts as many as 5,830 IT companies currently in operation, which is more than are in operation on the entire territory of Croatia.

The Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) took with them as many as 32 Croatian companies, mostly from the IT sector, to Vienna's fifth international B2B Software Days.

Among them, the conference was participated in by King ICT, Megatrend business solutions, Mediatoolkit and Ekobit. Tajana Kesić Šapić, the director of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce's industry sector, said that the visit was organised in cooperation with the Austrian Chamber of Commerce, Advantage Austria, and the European Entrepreneurship Network who are interested in the Croatian IT sector.

"Over the last five years, IT companies' revenue in Croatia grew by 7.4 percent, and exports rose almost twice as fast, to 11.3 percent per year," stated Kesić Šapić.

Although the startup scene in the Croatian capital of Zagreb has been ''coming to life'' over the last few years, the same sector in Austria's capital city has been growing stronger at double Zagreb's rate. In Vienna alone, there are more IT companies than are in operation in the whole of the Republic of Croatia, an impressive 5,830 of them.

Vienna is investing more than the equivalent of a quarter of a billion kuna per year into the city's startup scene, and just like in Zagreb, the city readily provides all the necessary support for the free establishment of startups, up to half a million euros worth.

Goran Mrvoš, director of Infosite, one of the Croatian IT companies at the fair, said that in Vienna he realised that the overall awareness of digitalisation in Croatia was low, and that it created a market advantage for foreign competition.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle and business pages for much more.


Click here for the original article by Bernard Ivezic for Poslovni Dnevnik

Friday, 15 March 2019

Studenac to Officially Take Over Istrian Supermarkets (IS)

A takeover for Istrian Supermarkets (IS) by the popular retail giant Studenac is in the works as potential new investments and the strengthening of the company loom.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 14th of March, 2019, Studenac, one of the leading retail chains in the Republic of Croatia, has officially submitted a request for the takeover of the Poreč-based retail company Istrian Supermarkets (IS) to the Croatian Competition Agency (AZTN). Upon receiving approval from AZTN and properly meeting all the terms and conditions agreed between the involved parties, Studenac will acquire 100 percent of Istrian Supermarket's shares based on the recently signed contract between the two companies.

This transaction will certainly pave the way and provide fertile ground for yet more investments and the transfer of knowledge and experience for both Istrian Supermarkets and Studenac, and will significantly increase the volume of business, further enabling the market leader to build its already strong retail portfolio along the Adriatic coast.

Michal Senczuk, the head of Studenac's management body, stated:

"Studenac is continuing to improve its offers to domestic customers through the takeover of a company that is [already] well positioned and highly valued by its customers in Istria. Istrian Supermarkets (IS) is a successful organisation with excellent resources and we believe that this synergistic effect will lead us all to new opportunities which will contribute to the satisfaction of our customers as well as our employees.''

Vedran Banovac, Istrian Supermarkets' main director added:

"We're extremely happy to have a chance to be a significant part of the consolidation process of the Croatian retail market, and for Istrian Supermarkets, this transaction represents a strategic opportunity to increase our market share in the dynamic growth within the region. We're looking forward to the integration of our team with Studenac and the joint work we'll undertake, through which we'll continue to strengthen our business.''

Make sure to follow our dedicated business page for much more.

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Tomislav Horvatinčić Found Guilty! 4 Years 10 Months in Jail Awaits

As tportal writes on the 13th of March, 2019, Tomislav Horvatinčić has been found guilty of causing a maritime accident that killed an Italian couple, Francesco and Mariella Salpietro, back in August 2011. He was sentenced to four years and ten months in prison for the act, and he is also forbidden to own a driving license for five years, if the verdict becomes final he will also have to dip into his infamously deep pockets and pay 190,000 kuna in court costs.

Otherwise, the Zagreb entrepreneur and serial traffic ''accident'' participant Tomislav Horvatinčić did not appear at the Šibenik court.

The verdict was handed over to Tomislav Horvatinčić by the trial chamber presided over by Judge Ivan Jurišić after two previous judgments - the first which convicted him, and the second which actually acquitted him for his claim of ''syncope'', which saw a backlash of astronomic proportions unleashed upon Judge Maja Šupe. Tomislav Horvatinčić still has the right to appeal this verdict within fifteen days, whether or not he sees it as worth it at this point however, is another matter.

Judge Jurišić explained in the explanation of the verdict that Tomislav Horvatinčić did not properly observe his surroundings when he was driving the boat, thus failing to see the sailboat operated by the Salpietro couple who lost their lives owing to the incident. The judge described the vessel's erratic movements and then went on to read the details of the terrible injuries suffered by the Salpietro couple which resulted in their deaths, Večernji list reports.

The judge stated that, among other things, it has been disputed that the disgraced Zagreb entrepreneur mentioned his so-called ''syncope'' to a doctor a couple of days after the tragic incident. The vessel's movements after the incident also suggest that Tomislav Horvatinčić was conscious and functioning normally after the incident, meaning that he was fully aware and in control of his actions.

The Zagreb tycoon didn't even notice the boat which was being operated by the Salpietro couple. ''That's Horvatinčić's failure alone,'' the judge said in his explanation, adding that Tomislav Horvatinčić ran into the boat at full speed and was aware that he could very easily harm or endanger others.

The mitigating circumstances when it comes to the level of punishment for the act are the older age and the health situation of Tomislav Horvatinčić, but it doesn't stand in his favour that he has several such ''accidents'' under his belt.

Horvatinčić's lawyer, Veljko Miljević, appeared today in court, but as stated, Horvatinčić was nowhere to be seen. Asked by journalists whether Horvatinčić would come in person to hear the verdict, he simply said: ''Look in there and you'll see.''

''It's not obligatory for him to come. You could have noticed that he's not been in the best state of health recently, and in court he said that he had delayed some surgery twice for the trial so that this procedure could take place as quickly and as efficiently as possible,'' said Miljević in a clear attempt to paint a more favourable picture of his client, announcing that an appeal would be lodged when he receives a written version of the verdict.

Speaking exclusively to Total Croatia News, Federico Salpietro, the son of the Italian couple who lost their lives at the hands of Tomislav Horvatinčić's ''syncope at sea'', said: 

''For about 8 years, we've been forced to live with frequent flashbacks of the saddest event that has happened in our lives due to this extremely long trial. For about 8 years, we have been outraged by an unbelievable defense strategy which since the beginning we perceived as a strong offensive strategy and as psychological violence. For about 8 years, we have had to deal with different verdicts, a lot of court hearings, several technical and medical experts' reports, uncountable interviews with international newspapers, official investigations requested by the Croatian, Italian and European parliaments, multiple meetings and phonecalls with politicians, embassies and consulates and an indefinite number of talks with our lawyers. For about 8 years, we have been at the forefront of the power of lies against the priceless importance of dignity and humanity. For about 8 years we have been feeling alone in the middle of the Adriatic sea, where our mum and dad died that Tuesday morning.

After tomorrow's verdict, we hope to finally find a safe dock. We hope this will lead us into a brighter future with much more humanity. We seek for the truth to come out. We hope Croatia can become a safer place.

Thanks to all the people who showed their professionality in working to this case and to the others who spent kind words for us and had a positive attitude throughout these [seemingly] endless years.''

The Salpietro family emphasised that they also want to thank the journalists who have helped them through this impossibly difficult time, and that they wish to come back to Croatia, a country they once adored, soon.

Make sure to stay up to date by following our dedicated news page.

Saturday, 9 March 2019

Could Next Month Mark the End of Croatian Tourism's Grey Market?

Croatian tourism continues to boom throughout the warm summer months, with visitors from across the globe descending not only on some of the country's most popular coastal destinations like Dubrovnik and Split, but further afield to hidden gems located in the rolling hills of the continental parts of the country, including but not limited to Zagreb, but gradually stretching all the way over to overlooked Eastern Croatia.

The more money a sector generates, the more loopholes can be found. The more complicated an industry becomes, the more clauses can be discovered by those who perhaps don't intend to use the system, but rather attempt to cheat it. 

From not registering guests staying in your privately owned accommodation facilities, to not registering said facilities with the appropriate authorities and the tax office, all the way to playing taxi and raking in thousands, there have always been those wanting to get as much as possible out of Croatian tourism and the hustle and bustle of the summer season, without having to jump through any of the burdensome hoops licensed entities have to. Could a new law on its way next month put a stop to that ''tradition''? Maybe.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 8th of March, 2019, the purpose of the upcoming legal changes, as was argued in the competent ministry, is not aimed at punishing people but rather at attempting to raise the overall quality of the tourist services provided. Unregistered activity, or work in so-called grey zone - is considered to be Croatian tourism's very personal plague. However, the new law, which comes into force on April the 1st, should change that.

All contained in one unified service, as it once used to be, there are seventeen types of inspections which have been operating within eight different ministries so far. Come April, any inspector will be able to record so called ''rad na crno'' (working on the black/unregistered) and issue an oral ban on the spot right there and then.

The Croatian Government considers that the consolidation of such types of inspections, or perhaps more correctly the re-establishing of an independent state inspectorate, will be much more efficient and functional. When it comes to Croatian tourism, it will enable a clearer and more concrete fight against the apparent ''plague'' of the black and grey economy.

''Now, aside from tourist inspectors, all inspectors have the right not only to deal with unregistered facilities but also those who are suspected of being unregistered,'' explained Tonči Glavina, State Secretary at the Ministry of Tourism, for HTV.

As stated, the government has claimed that the new law is not aimed purely at seeking out people to make examples of and punish, but rather to create a better environment in Croatian tourism for all. They claim that many people involved in this business need to be educated. They are not well acquainted with the laws, regulations, procedures, and therefore it is education that is missing, and not just control.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestylepolitics and business pages for much more.

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