TCRAP_Public/991109.MBX    T R O U B L E D   C O M P A N Y   R E P O R T E R

                      A S I A   P A C I F I C

            Tuesday, November 9, 1999, Vol. 2, No. 218


* C H I N A  &  H O N G  K O N G *

BENEFUN INT'L HOLDINGS: Narrows six-month loss
DICKSON CONCEPTS INT'L: Closes Hong Kong Warner Bros.Store
WELBACK HOLDINGS: Posts annual loss
ZHEJIANG ALUMINUM: Factory is auctioned off for debts

* J A P A N *

COSMO OIL CO.: Posts first-half loss
JAPAN ENERGY CORP.: Posts first-half loss
NIPPON MITSUBISHI OIL CORP.: Posts first-half loss

* K O R E A *

DAEWOO GROUP: Shares of 9 units to be reduced to nil
DAEWOO GROUP: FSS to investigate units' accounting records  
HANJIN GROUP: To split off 3 nonbank financial units
SAMSUNG MOTORS: Creditors giving up on?
SAMSUNG MOTOR: 3-4 foreign concerns showing interest
SSANGYONG MOTORS: Creditors giving up on?

* P H I L I P P I N E S *

NATIONAL STEEL CORP.: Creditor banks to draw up plan
VICTORIAS MILLING CO.: Captial raising effort fails

* T H A I L A N D *

BANGKOK EXPRESSWAY: Debt-rescheduling talks bogging down
INT'L ENGINEERING PLC: SET delisting threatened
TEJAPAIBUL FAMILY: Two properties to be auctioned off
THAI PETROCHEMICAL INDUS.: Deal with creditors early 2000

C H I N A  &  H O N G  K O N G

BENEFUN INT'L HOLDINGS: Narrows six-month loss
Benefun International Holdings has narrowed its loss in the
six months to June 30 from $140.95M a year ago to $29.91M.  
Loss per share was 6.5 cents from 35.3 cents previously.  
No dividend was awarded.

DICKSON CONCEPTS INT'L: Closes Hong Kong Warner Bros.Store
Five years after winning an exclusive long-term licence
from United States-based Warner Bros to operate Warner Bros
Studio Stores in Hong Kong and Singapore, Dickson Concepts
International last week shut its 8,000 square foot store in
Tsim Sha Tsui and sub-let it to casual wear retailer
Giordano International.  

Analysts estimate that retailing of clothes and toys of
Loony Tunes characters such as, Bugs Bunny, Tweety and
Sylvester the cat produced losses running into tens of
millions of dollars for Dickson.  The shutdown leaves one
Warner Bros store in operation in Hong Kong compared with
four in 1996.  Analysts recently briefed by Dickson's
management said the flagship pacific Place store in
Admiralty would be kept open.  They said all Warner Bros'
outlets in Singapore were closed early this year.

WELBACK HOLDINGS: Posts annual loss
Consumer electronic manufacturing company Welback Holdings
sank into the red for the year ended June 30.  The company
reported a net loss of $27.46M, compared with a $13.89M
profit last year.  Welback's turnover slumped by 48.9% to
$258.15M.  The company also disclosed it was involved in
litigation with the North American Foreign Trading Corp.
regarding a dispute over exported goods valued at US$5M.

ZHEJIANG ALUMINUM: Factory is auctioned off for debts      
The eastern province of Zhejiang has auctioned a major
aluminium factory that went bankrupt after running up debts
of 1.1 billion yuan (about HK$1.02 billion) due to bad
management, chaotic accounting and heavy losses in trading
international futures.

Zhejiang Huaneng Investment, a power firm, paid 136 million
yuan to acquire Zhejiang Aluminium in the town of Lanxi,
400 kilometres south of Ningbo, beating the single other
bidder, according to the Market newspaper.  The firm had
assets of 376 million yuan and debts of 1.1 billion yuan.

It was the largest bankruptcy of a state firm in Zhejiang,
one of the richest provinces in the mainland, and an
example of one way that Beijing is disposing of its heavy
burden of loss-making state firms.  An official of the
plant said a new company, formed after the purchase had
been established on October 18, would today begin
interviewing job applicants.

"I expect we will hire 3,000 to 4,000 people, compared to
the 6,000 who worked here before. It was too many," he

Zhejiang Aluminium has a history typical of a state
company. It was set up in 1958, one of 156 industrial
plants established with the aid of the Soviet Union.  When
Moscow unilaterally withdrew its experts in 1962, the plant
stopped production for six years. By 1987, its production
had reached 12,500 tonnes of electrolytic aluminium and
25,000 in 1989, when it was restructured into a
shareholding firm.

It had good products, annual profit and tax of more than 30
million yuan and received many product awards from the
industry. But within 10 years all this had disappeared,
thanks to a familiar list of the ills that afflict the
mainland's state sector.  It expanded too fast, adding two
extra plants in Lanxi and setting up five joint ventures
and 80 subsidiaries all over the mainland, over which it
was unable to exercise control. Many paid nothing to the
mother company and others lost tens of millions of yuan.

From 1990 to 1992, it lost 60 million yuan in trading
foreign futures on the Shenzhen market, which ate up two
years of taxes and profits.  It changed general manager
seven times from 1992 to this year, a period in which its
debt, mainly to banks, more than doubled from 500 million
yuan to 1.1 billion yuan.

Although officials should have stopped these
irregularities, the local government in Lanxi, a county-
level town of 600,000, was too weak and the provincial
authorities far away in Hangzhou too distant.  The State
Council in Beijing was reluctant to declare such a large
plant bankrupt but was eventually persuaded after 29 visits
by the vice- mayor of Lanxi city, which had tried to get
Huaneng to merge with the company.  But Huaneng refused,
saying that it did not want to take on the burden of debt
and the 6,000 workforce.

By acquiring a bankrupt firm at auction, Huaneng is not
obliged to take on the workers nor the debt, obligations
largely assumed by the government.  Asked why he wanted to
take it over, Huaneng general manager Zhu Hugen said that
the factory made a good-quality product that was selling
for 200-300 yuan a tonne more than its rivals, and it had
no inventory.  The average consumption of electrolytic
aluminium in the mainland is only five kilograms per capita
per year, against a world average of 35kg, which means that
there is big potential. Also half of the production cost of
the plant is power, which Huaneng can supply. (South China
Morning Post  08-Nov-1999)


COSMO OIL CO.: Posts first-half loss
JAPAN ENERGY CORP.: Posts first-half loss
NIPPON MITSUBISHI OIL CORP.: Posts first-half loss
Three of the four major oil refiners suffered operating
losses for the first half ended September, according to
announcements made separately by Thursday.

Cosmo Oil Co. (TSE:5007) registered a pretax loss of 5.7
billion yen against pretax profit of 1.7 billion yen for
the same period last year. The 6.7 billion yen in benefits
paid to early retirees and other unexpected expenditure
boosted extraordinary losses, resulting in a net loss of
9.7 billion yen. The company recorded net profit of 700
million yen a year earlier.

Japan Energy Corp.(TSE:5014) posted an operating loss of
1.4 billion yen, which was 2.6 billion yen less than the
year-earlier loss. Pretax loss totaled 4.6 billion yen, a
reduction of 1.8 billion yen on a year ago.

Nippon Mitsubishi Oil Corp. (TSE:5001) also suffered an
operating loss of 2.1 billion yen against the year-earlier
loss of 5.3 billion yen. But it secured pretax profit of 6
billion yen by liquidating holdings in bank stocks and
selling its Mizushima refinery to a subsidiary.

The losses are attributed to the delay in passing on crude
oil price rises to refined products. Cost cutting efforts
failed to make up for the squeezed profit margins.  Crude
prices climbed to the 21 dollar level in September from 14
dollars a barrel in April. But refiners had trouble lifting
prices of diesel oil, C fuel oil and other oil products.

In contrast, Idemitsu Kosan enjoyed operating profit of
12.4 billion yen and pretax profit of 1 billion yen.
For the year through March, the four refiners all expect
pretax profit, assuming price hikes are more widely
accepted by customers.  (Asia Pulse  05-Nov-1999)


DAEWOO GROUP: Shares of 9 units to be reduced to nil
A high-ranking government official said Saturday that the
government and the creditors of Daewoo have decided to
reduce the shares of eight Daewoo subsidiaries whose
capital has been eroded by debt, including flagship unit
Daewoo Corp., held by group founder and chair, Kim Woo-
choong, and other group subsidiaries to nil.

The move is being made in part to clear the way for a
thorough probe aimed at determining where the
responsibility for the collapse of the group lies. The
seven other firms are Daewoo Motor, Daewoo Electronics,
Ssangyong Motors, Keangnam Enterprises, Daewoo Telecom,
Daewoo Capital and Diner's Club Korea.

Daewoo Heavy Industries, one of the group's still-lucrative
units, will be included with the above eight early next
year, once its settles its accounts with other Daewoo
subsidiaries.  (Digital ChosunIlbo  07-Nov-1999)

DAEWOO GROUP: FSS to investigate units' accounting records  
The Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) plans to launch a
special investigation this month at the earliest into the
financial reports of the twelve Daewoo group subsidiaries
undergoing debt workout programs.

A high-ranking FSS official said Sunday that a detailed
probe into the accounting books of the Daewoo units is
inevitable due to the recent uncovering of a wide gap
between actual asset values and the asset values posted on
the books. The official added that if the books are found
to have been rigged, the FSS will punish not only company
accounting officials, but also the accounting firms.

The investigation will concentrate on the two Daewoo
subsidiaries, Daewoo Corp. and Daewoo Motor, which were
found to have the largest discrepancy between the book and
the real value of their assets, and two accounting firms,
Sandong and Ankun, which had done the auditing of the two
firms.  (Digital ChosunIlbo  07-Nov-1999)

HANJIN GROUP: To split off 3 nonbank financial units
Hanjin Group, owner of Korean Air, is planning to separate
three nonbank financial institutions from it and launch
them in a subgroup specializing in financial services by
the first half of next year.

The announcement coincided with the beginning of
prosecutors' summons yesterday of the Hanjin owner family
in connection with tax dodging allegations involving a
record amount of money for a single corporation.
According to Hanjin officials yesterday, Korean French
Banking Corp., a merchant bank with Societe Generale of
France holding a 39.4 percent stake, and Hanjin Investment
and Securities, with Prudential Asset holding 24.18 percent
of the stake, will be spun off this year. Oriental Fire and
Marine Insurance will be spun off by the first half next

"A holding company will be set up to have the three
financial firms re-launched as a financial specialist next
year," a spokesman said.

This separation would enable the conglomerate in tax
trouble to concentrate on its standard bearing operations
as a ground and air cargo carrier with their portions
accounting for 80 percent, up from 68 percent, once the
three firms get separated, according to Hanjin officials.
The number of Hanjin affiliates will be reduced to 16 by
the end of this year, from 26 early this year, they said.

"We will seek foreign investment for the three firms to be
separated, introduce managerial transparency and have them
led by a holding company in order to make them more
competitive," the spokesman said.

Hanjin Marine president Cho Soo-ho was summoned yesterday
afternoon for questioning on the allegations that he had
dodged 2.9 billion won in corporation taxes in 1996.
In a special tax probe, state tax auditors slapped a record
back tax over 1 trillion won on Hanjin. This followed a
series of accidents involving KAL aircraft for which
President Kim Dae-jung had unusually blamed the group's
owner management in a Cabinet meeting.

Government officials said that Hanjin has yet to make a
significant change in its management system, dubbing the
appointment of a professional manager as KAL president as a
cosmetic approach not addressing the root cause of the
problem.  Speculation has it that Hanjin is hastening the
implementation of its reorganization more in conformity to
the government's demand with the announced plan of the
affiliate separation being part of its efforts.  (Korea
Times, Digital ChosunIlbo  08-Nov-1999)

SAMSUNG MOTORS: Creditors giving up on?
SSANGYONG MOTORS: Creditors giving up on?
The creditors of Samsung Motors and Ssangyong Motors appear
to have given up on the two ailing auto firms.

Although Samsung's Pusan plant resumed production in late
October for the first time in ten months, after lines were
stopped last December, the company's main creditor, Hanvit
Bank, said that production would only last for three months
until the existing inventory of parts runs out. Hanvit said
that it could not guarantee that production would continue
after this period as a minimum monthly turnover of 10,000
units would be necessary to prevent losses from piling up.

The bank said that it is reluctant to keep a funding
lifeline in place as sales remain short of expectations and
there has been little headway in sell-off negotiations.
Hanvit had contacted Hyundai Motor Co. about the
possibility of running the plant on a contract basis, but
Hyundai has indicated that it has no intention to do so.

Meanwhile, Ssangyong's major creditor, Cho Hung Bank, found
that the firm's W3.09 trillion in debt exceeds its assets
of W2.7 trillion by W335 billion. The bank had been hoping
to sell off the company after normalizing operations
through an injection of funds and had proposed the
conversion of W130 billion in debt into equity and the
write-down of W1.6 trillion in interest, but other
creditors have rejected the proposal.

The other creditors have also refused to provide additional
funding, saying that Ssangyong is simply non-competitive
and that any new loans would only result in snowballing
losses for them. Without any additional funding, Ssangyong
is on a certain path to liquidation.  (Digital ChosunIlbo  

SAMSUNG MOTOR: 3-4 foreign concerns showing interest
Talks on the sale of Samsung Motor are expected to progress
quickly with three to four foreign companies expressing an
interest in buying the bankrupt automaker, an official at
one of its creditor banks said yesterday.

Declining to name the potential buyers, the official said,
"Given the degree of enthusiasm, I think the sale process
will produce a tangible result."

Samsung Motor, currently under court receivership, resumed
production at its Pusan factory last month after its
creditor banks provided fresh loans to allow the plant to
operate for a three-month period.  The official said
creditors will be able to sell the plant on much more
favorable terms when it is in operation.

Some industry insiders named French automaker Renault,
which bought Samsung's Japanese partner Nissan, as a
potential buyer.  General Motors and Hyundai Motor recently
denied reports that they are interested in acquiring
Samsung Motor.

While rumors persist that the Samsung Group may attempt to
take over Daewoo Motor in cooperation with a foreign
partner to re-enter the auto business, the group strongly
deny such claims.  (Korea Herald  09-Nov-1999)


NATIONAL STEEL CORP.: Creditor banks to draw up plan
Fourteen creditor-banks of beleaguered National Steel Corp.
will draw up with Asia's oldest steel maker a plan aimed at
recovering the P14 billion owed them without shutting down
the firm.

"To let it die is a lot of wasted assets," central bank
Governor Rafael Buenaventura said over the weekend. "They
have to find a compromise soon because National Steel has
valuable assets that you can't just write off."

National Steel is the last white elephant waiting to be
rehabilitated. Buenaventura said the banks were discussing
among themselves whether to foreclose on National Steel's
assets or to force it to file for a voluntary
rehabilitation. That would allow all parties to restructure
the loans and vote for a receivership. The Securities and
Exchange Commission will then have jurisdiction over the
steel firm through the receivership committee.

"And then, the creditors would take over and work with
National Steel to look for investors that would infuse
needed cash in the company," Buenaventura said. "The banks
are ready to take over but they need buyers."

National Steel has stopped paying its P14 billion debt and
has been declared in-default. Philippine National Bank
alone has P5-billion exposure in the company. The
government-run Land Bank of the Philippines claims P1.2
billion in collectibles.  The company's debts are secured
by plant and equipment under a mortgage trust indenture.
This is a single document consolidating all its assets to
be used as collateral for its remaining debt. A mortgage
trust indenture facilitates foreclosure in case of default.

Trade and Industry Secretary Jose Pardo squelched reports
of last-minute rescue for National Steel. He says the
government has pretty much given up on its remaining 12.5
percent equity in the company.

"Foreclosure is inevitable unless they can find a partner
soon," Pardo said. "[National Steel] has been given until
the end of the year terms of tariff protection from
competing imports. In the meantime, it was supposed to look
for a partner."

Some aspects of National Steel's plant operations are
reportedly not attractive to buyers, including the billet
shop that produces raw materials for long steel products.
Most investors are interested only in its flat products
such as hot-rolled coils, cold-rolled coils and tin plates.
Buenaventura agreed with Pardo saying creditor banks should
get their act together.

"We cannot force the banks to foreclose. The majority [of
these banks] need to agree."

He refused to name which banks were for or against total
foreclosure.  He said the feared closure of National Steel
would not harm the economy "If this happened two years ago
when there is fear of the unknown-then foreclosing NSC
assets would have had a destabilizing factor," he said.
"But today, if it stops manufacturing steel, the big banks
can absorb the loss," Buenaventura said. "The danger is to
NSC only. Of course, some of the banks would have to take a

Some creditor-banks are complaining against the "enormous
filing fee of P150 million" before they could foreclose on
National Steel. "Ah well. they can't have their cake and
eat it too," Buenaventura said.

The Malaysian-funded Hottick Investments owns 82.5 percent
of National Steel's shareholdings. The government, through
the National Development Co., owns 12.5 percent. The
remaining 5 percent is held by Japan's Marubeni Corp.
Judging from the recent moves of creditor-banks and
pronouncements by authorities, the foreclosure of National
Steel seems a foregone conclusion. The Department of
Finance has endorsed the foreclosing on National Steel's
assets after the original Malaysian investor, Wing Tiek
Holdings, failed to invest new money into the steel firm.

"Para silang kotse na naubusan na ng gasolina,"
Buenaventura said.

National Steel has blamed cheap imported steel products for
its problems.  It wants stiffer penalties on importers
bringing in steel at "dumped prices" and a moratorium on
the importation of hot rolled coils, cold rolled coils,
tinplates, billets and downstream steel products.  (Manila
Times  08-Nov-1999)

VICTORIAS MILLING CO.: Captial raising effort fails
Shareholders of Victorias Milling Co. (VMC) may soon find
themselves minority owners of the country's largest sugar
mill after failing to raise 567 million Philippine pesos
(US$14.2 million at PhP40.024:US$1) in fresh capital by the
end of last week as required under its rehabilitation plan.

A sugarcane planter source, who requested anonymity, said
present stockholders of VMC were only able to come up with
PhP22 million ($550,000) as of last week, the deadline for
shareholders to cough up PhP567 million in fresh equity by
purchasing 567 million new shares.

"All the shareholders were only able to come up with PhP22
million. We just could not raise enough on time," the
source told BusinessWorld in a telephone interview last

Other industry sources, however, said some shareholders
deliberately refused to raise money in protest over the VMC
management's consent to a provision in the rehab plan which
provides for an "all-or-nothing" arrangement on the
purchase of the 567 million shares.  The sources said the
VMC management agreed to a provision which prevents
existing shareholders from exercising their "preemptive
rights," a provision which the existing shareholders had
staunchly opposed.

BusinessWorld could not reach VMC officials for comment as
of press time.  A shareholder is able to exercise his or
her preemptive right when he or she is allowed to purchase
new shares without having to buy a whole block of shares
offered by a company.  The exercise of one's preemptive
rights allows a shareholder to keep his existing stake from
being diluted.

Under VMC's approved rehabilitation plan, its existing
shareholders are supposed to infuse PhP567 million in fresh
capital, equivalent to 567 million new shares, into the
firm which would give them a 53.35% stake in the company.
However, if they fail to do so, VMC's creditor banks will
auction off the whole amount to a new investor, leaving
existing shareholders with a minority stake.  (Business
World  08-Nov-1999)


BANGKOK EXPRESSWAY: Debt-rescheduling talks bogging down
Talks over rescheduling debts for Bangkok Expressway have
bogged down in recent weeks.  Apai Asawanond, senior
executive vice-president of the Bank of Asia, said more
time was required to study details of the restructuring

The Bank of Asia has one billion baht outstanding in loans
to Bangkok Expressway.  Still, many local banks expect to
reach their restructuring targets for the year, helped by
declining interest rates and timeframe commitments set
under the central bank's Corporate Debt Restructuring
Advisory Committee.  At the end of August, debts totalling
nearly 680 billion baht debt had been restructured,
regulators say, with another 1.2 trillion under discussion.

The Bank of Asia, for instance, says it has restructured 16
billion baht in loans to date, and is confident of reaching
its target of 25 billion baht by year end.  Deja Tulananda,
an executive director of Bangkok Bank, said the bank
expected to restructure more than 100 billion baht in loans
this year, including cases such as TPI and BECL.  This
represents around 30% of Bangkok Bank's total non-
performing loans.  But critics say most of the
restructuring progress to date has been window-dressing,
with bankers rescheduling loans without a real
consideration of the economic viability of borrowers.

Undercapitalised banks are unwilling or unable to accept
necessary losses, or "haircuts", to restore viability and
ease cash flow pressures for borrowers.  As a result, some
bankers worry that restructured loans could easily turn bad
again within the next several years if the economy fails to

"It's a given, that banks are looking to deal with the
immediate problem and do what they can to bring down non-
performing loans," one banker said.  "Return rates, where
restructured loans turn bad again, are quite low now, but
I'm concerned they could reach as high as 30% if the
economy turns for the worst."

Rescheduling and reducing interest charges, sometimes to as
low as 1%, are done for borrowers to allow banks to
reclassify loans as performing.  (Bangkok Post  08-Nov-

INT'L ENGINEERING PLC: SET delisting threatened
The Stock Exchange of Thailand says it will order
International Engineering Plc  delisted from the market
and its senior executives blacklisted if evidence is found
of intention to deceive shareholders and flout securities

IEC recently said it would delay a shareholders' meeting
ordered by regulators because of difficulties in seeking a
financial adviser, from December 3 to December 23.  The
company has been ordered to seek shareholder approval for
more than one billion baht in guarantees given to Krung
Thai Bank for loans to the M Group, an IEC shareholder.
An investigation focuses on whether the transactions were
improperly made and violated disclosure laws.  (Bangkok
Post  08-Nov-1999)

TEJAPAIBUL FAMILY: Two properties to be auctioned off
Bangkok Metropolitan Bank says it will shortly auction two
land plots owned by the Tejapaibul family to help settle
outstanding bad loans.

Bank president Somchai Sakulsurarat said directors on
Friday approved the sale of land at Bang Phu and Sri
Rachanakorn industrial estates that had been pledged
against some loans to the Tejapaibul family.  Details of
the sale would be finalised later, but he expected the
proceeds to be enough to settle bad debts totalling two
billion baht.

Overall, 10% of the bank's total loans are to the
Tejapaibul family, which founded the bank in 1950. At the
end of June, outstanding loans totalled 177 billion baht,
with about 72% non-performing.  Bangkok Metropolitan Bank
was seized by the Bank of Thailand in early 1998 and is
scheduled to be privatised by the end of the year.
Regulators are reportedly looking at whether former bank
executives, including members of the Tejapaibul family,
violated credit lending practices.

The Tejapaibul family also is in default on loans totalling
about 2.2 billion baht that were borrowed from the bank for
the World Trade Centre.  Mr Somchai said the bank was the
creditor for the plaza portion of the World Trade Centre,
one of the largest shopping centres in Bangkok.  Other
banks, including Siam Commercial Bank, were owed funds for
the hotel and office complex of the centre.

Mr Somchai said restructuring talks were moving at a slow
pace, and that Bangkok Metropolitan Bank might seek a
separate settlement on its portion of the project to
accelerate progress.  He added that the bank had reaped $30
million in the sale of four hotel and property assets in
the United States pledged by the Tejapaibul family.
When converted to baht, the proceeds were sufficient to
cover outstanding loans.  (Bangkok Post  08-Nov-1999)

THAI PETROCHEMICAL INDUS.: Deal with creditors early 2000
Creditors of Thai Petrochemical Industry, one of the
country's biggest debt restructuring cases, are expected to
finalise talks and sign a new contract early next year.

TPI has outstanding debt of more than $3.2 billion to 140
creditors, with more than half of total debt owed abroad.
The restructuring plan aims to reduce the industrial
conglomerate's debt-to-equity level to 2.5:1 or 3:1 from
the current 7:1.  Non-core assets, such as land and office
properties will be liquidated. TPI will also have to raise
new capital, with new funds used partly to buy back
outstanding loans from creditors at a discount.

Other loans will also be converted into new equity for
creditors. New corporate bond issues will also be made to
refinance outstanding loans.  One sticking point is on the
question of management changes. Creditors say new outside
professionals should be brought in to take posts now
controlled by the Leophairatana and Liewpairat families.
Bankers agree that improved economic indicators and recent
gains in global oil and petrochemical prices have helped
restructuring talks for TPI.  (Bangkok Post  08-Nov-1999)

S U B S C R I P T I O N  I N F O R M A T I O N

Troubled Company Reporter -- Asia Pacific is a daily
newsletter co-published by Bankruptcy Creditors' Service,
Inc., Princeton, NJ USA, and Beard Group, Inc., Washington,
DC USA. Debra Brennan and Lexy Mueller, Editors.

Copyright 1999.  All rights reserved.  ISSN: 1520-9482.

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