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All Over For Ansett?

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All Over For Ansett?

Old 10th Sep 2001, 00:53
  #1 (permalink)  
The Guvnor
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Exclamation All Over For Ansett?

The first of the sizeable airlines looks like it's gone under now - and quite possibly dragging Air New Zealand down with it.

I wonder if this Rod Eddington success story will be repeated at BA?

From today's (well, tomorrow's actually) Sydney Morning Herald:

Time runs out for Ansett

By Mark Todd, Darren Goodsir and John Schauble in Suzhou, China

Ansett looks certain to be abandoned by its parent, Air New Zealand, and its immediate fate decided by receivers as early as today.

The airline's main chance of survival faded last night when the Federal Government insisted it would not back a taxpayer-funded bail-out.

With trans-Tasman talks failing to secure enough capital to save Ansett, calling in the receivers - the first stage in winding up Australia's second-biggest domestic carrier - could occur today.

Much hinges on a New Zealand Cabinet meeting today.

Air New Zealand's distressed board is believed to have exhausted all options to keep both airlines afloat.

The New Zealand Prime Minister, Ms Helen Clark, virtually sounded the death-knell for Ansett, which employs 16,000 workers and whose only genuine rescuer, Singapore Airlines, has all but walked away from a planned $4 billion cash and fleet resuscitation.

Adding weight to reports Ansett would be excised, she said Air New Zealand would not be toppled by its subsidiary, bleeding $1.3 million a day.

Ms Clark said: "The bottom line is Air New Zealand as the national airline has to be kept flying. Life without Air New Zealand is unthinkable."

As Ansett cancelled all national advertising, Air New Zealand's board held an emergency session late into the night. But their apparent failure to find a solution to the crisis is likely to lead to further severe falls in the company's share price, which has recorded three successive record lows.

The 25 per cent dive in the stock's value in the past week has undermined attempts to attract new investors, leading to renewed pressure on the Federal Government to go guarantor for Ansett, or fund a bail-out to avert its collapse and the political calamity of lost jobs, ditched routes and higher air fares.

But now a taxpayer-led rescue has been scotched, Ansett insiders say only two options remain. The first is for Qantas, the market leader, to take over Ansett alone, or together with its struggling parent.

This "Canadian option" - a reference to that nation's monopoly airline market - was unlikely to garner support from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission or politicians, wary of the impact on air fares that may occur under such a regime.

The other option, in the absence of a buyer, is for receivers to be appointed. Receivers might not ground Ansett, but would seek to stem losses, and generate cash by slashing jobs and services.

Under this option, forward ticket bookings would be honoured, but frequent flyers would be in doubt.

In China after talks with New Zealand's Finance Minister, Dr Michael Cullen, the Treasurer, Mr Costello, repeated the Government's opposition to a rescue, pinning hopes on the unlikely prospect of a buyer.

"Air New Zealand is a privately-owned New Zealand company," he said. "Ansett is its subsidiary. The ownership of Ansett is in the hands of a privately-owned New Zealand company. "This is a matter for the shareholders and directors of that company to determine its commercial outcome."

Unions representing some of the worried workforce held a rally in Melbourne yesterday. There will be more union meetings today to push for Government support to keep Ansett flying.

Industry analysts say Air New Zealand has been left with little option but to cut lose Ansett after realising the business is now worth less than half the $1.2 billion they paid for it. It will announce it has written down the value of Ansett by more than $500 million, or roughly the entire market capitalisation of its parent.

If Air New Zealand does not move to isolate Ansett, it could leave the airline in breach of conditions covering some $4 billion in debt, putting it at the mercy of its bankers.

Putting Ansett into receivership may see the airline broken up, putting jobs at risk.
Old 10th Sep 2001, 02:25
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And across the Tasman Sea things look equally bleak for Air New Zealand...

Late night bid to avoid Air NZ crash


Air New Zealand directors emerged early today from a marathon meeting to develop a rescue plan to stop the national flag carrier's financial collapse.

After the meeting, Air New Zealand acting chairman Jim Farmer said the company and its two major shareholders, Singapore Airlines and Brierley Investments, were working with the Government on a proposal to ensure on-going financial support for the airline's international and domestic operations.

Mr Farmer said the board expected to make a further announcement by Thursday - the day it presents Air New Zealand's annual results.

Directors from Singapore Airlines and Brierley Investments took part in last night's meeting by video-conferencing, and Government negotiator Rob Cameron and teams of lawyers were on standby.

Late last night Prime Minister Helen Clark said she thought Air New Zealand would survive.

Asked about its Australian subsidiary, Ansett, which is losing $1.5 million a day, she said: "I am not going down that road - no further comment."

She expected to brief the cabinet today on the developing measures to salvage Air New Zealand, but no firm proposal will go before ministers.

Helen Clark said her cabinet ministers' team had been briefed on yesterday's board discussions and had authorised Mr Cameron to take discussions with the company and its major shareholders to a more detailed level.

"A number of uncertainties remain but we are committed to finding a constructive solution."

The Prime Minister also talked to Australia's Acting Prime Minister, John Anderson, during the evening.

One of the issues complicating the boardroom talks was a "letter of comfort" Air New Zealand gave to loss-making Ansett which makes it difficult to put the Australian airline into receivership without also threatening its parent.

Air New Zealand executives could not say yesterday whether the letter guaranteed all Ansett's loans, or was simply a stop-gap measure to keep Ansett afloat while Air New Zealand put together a recapitalisation plan.

If Air New Zealand writes off its investment in Ansett and reports, as expected, an operating loss of up to $300 million on Thursday, it would have shareholders' cash of $350 million against consolidated debt of $3.1 billion.

If Ansett's debts are also guaranteed by Air New Zealand in the letter of comfort, its plight will be far worse.

Yesterday's meeting started at 4 pm, and directors were still meeting after midnight.

But one executive who left early said: "People are tearing their hair out - it's all gone pear-shaped."

Before the meeting, Helen Clark said it was "unthinkable" that Air New Zealand would be allowed to collapse. No matter what happened, the national airline had to be kept flying.

Air New Zealand was asked to produce a commercial refinancing proposal in time for today's cabinet meeting.

But one option, the Government's keenly promoted Anzac rescue, was questioned by Australian Treasurer Peter Costello on Saturday after talks with Finance Minister Michael Cullen.

"Air New Zealand is responsible for sorting out its troubled subsidiary," was Mr Costello's curt response to journalists at an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation ministers' meeting in Shanghai.

Mr Farmer said Air New Zealand had informed the Australian Government of Ansett's financial position and would continue talks with the Australian Government today.

The depth of Air New Zealand's plight was shown when it pulled Ansett's advertising in Australia at the weekend.

So desperate is Air New Zealand that its board last week asked Qantas to buy Ansett. But Qantas chief executive Geoff Dixon says he rejected the proposal.

"It is not something we felt we could seriously consider. Despite what many people think, we do not dominate this industry and have no desire to do so," he told the Australian Financial Review.

Qantas has a proposal in the wings to buy into Air New Zealand.

As the uncertainty continues, Ansett customers appear to be getting cold feet.

Demand for tickets on Qantas and Virgin Blue flights rose dramatically over the weekend.

Unions demanded answers on the future for the airline's 15,000 staff.

An airline industry source said pulling advertising was a standard move when an airline was in financial crisis.

"An airline is like a bank.

"It can disintegrate really quickly because it depends on public confidence to exist."

The Australian Government has said it would welcome the introduction of new investors into Ansett.

"Ansett is a foreign-owned company, and any application ... would get a very, very favourable hearing from the Australian Government," Mr Costello said.

Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong Lee, has also ruled out his Government's involvement.

"This is SIA's (Singapore Airlines) matter - it is a commercial issue which SIA has to work out."
Old 10th Sep 2001, 03:33
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NOW what's it doing?!?,

Well 'it' is cutting and pasting again.

At least nobody will ever be able start a thread "All over for Caledoian Wings?"

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Old 10th Sep 2001, 06:32
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How much do you want to bet that it is all the fault of the "greedy/irresponsible/lazy/etc/etc/delete as necessary pilots".
What say, management buffs?
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Old 10th Sep 2001, 06:44
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The fate that is about to befall Ansett is not unlike most aviation disasters; a combination of a number of significant mistakes, each in isolation non-life threatening, but in combination, nearly always fatal.

Following the deregulation of the Australian aviation industry Ansett continued to be run as a personal fiefdom of the let Sir Peter Abeles of TNT. News Corp took a back seat. Both lived off the cash flow and re-invested nought back into the business. The balance sheet went to hell in a hand basket. In the meantime Qantas and Australian Airlines came together and put together a decent balance sheet and built the synergy between domestic and international that today includes the alliance with BA.

In the meantime, Ansett struggled to append a few international routes to its shrinking domestic business and ever thinning margins.
TNT exited via AirNZ while NewsCorp remained locked in via the foreign ownership regs.

In the late 90's the most sensible option was for NewsCorp to exit by selling their 50% to SQ. The balance sheet maintenance and investment required to rapidly restore Ansett was beyond the means of AirNZ even as far back as 1997/98.

This position was strongly pushed by Ansett management as the only realistic option that would guarantee Ansett a future.

Unfortunately pride always comes before a fall.

Over the Tasman, Air NZ in the form of Sir Selwyn Cushing and major shareholders Brierly Investments were in no mood to write down the value of their 50% of Ansett.This would surely be required should the other 50% go to SQ at a substantial discount to the cost of their already held 50% which had been bought from TNT some years earlier.

AirNZ then exercised it's pre-emptive rights over the NewsCorp 50% of Ansett. This was a classic mistake of biting off more than they could chew to maintain a seat at the big table in the Asia-Pacific aviation market.Pride more than anything else would not let Sir Selwyn and his board do anything else.

They thought they could have their kayak and heat it too.

Even in ideal weather this was never going to work.

Then a number of other circuit breakers all started popping at the same time.

With the addition of Impulse and Virgin Blue
to the domestic main east coast trunk routes and the rapid increase in the price of avgas , Ansett's balance sheet was further shredded in a matter of 12 months.

Then the two grounding episodes.. and it was all over.

Air NZ has it's own set of very serious problems which precluded them from fixing Ansett two years ago and most certainly at this point in time. Their major shareholder Brierly Investments is cash strapped and has no intention of increasing exposure (this shareholding is more debt dressed up as equity). SQ now in for 25% is looking down the barrel of a write-off in AirNZ and quite sensibly is not interested in buying into the mud-slinging and duck shoving that will now intensify between the unholy set of "stakeholders" that includes the NZ Government, the Australian Government and the major shareholders...and of course our friends the banks.

As surely as pride contributed significantly to the current situation you can be equally sure it will preclude a sensible solution.

The dye is cast.The finger pointing has commenced in earnest.

The vultures will have a good dinner. Everyone else will be 4Q'd.

Not cut and paste FWIW.
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Old 10th Sep 2001, 07:57
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I also forgot to make note of the relatively more important effect that the huge drop in the Australian dollar had Ansett's cost base in the period since 1997.

Whilst Qantas has a bit of a natural hedge in the form of non-AUD income, Ansett had no luxury. This caused a double whammy on fuel prices and lease obligations.

It will be interesting to see if and how Air NZ can extricate itself from Ansett given the letter of comfort in place covering Ansett debt.

I am sure our friendly bankers and lawyers will do their best to see that a clean amputation is not achieved without all the blood from both entities is drained.

The finger pointing will look like an NDB chasing a dozen frequencies at the same time.
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Old 10th Sep 2001, 08:15
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For anybody here who does have an interest in the story, there are 2 extremely good, well-informed, and so far, well debated, threads on Dunnunda & Godzone, this is the URL for the first thread, which, because of its size, was padlocked,Click Here

And the second URL is for the continuing thread
Continues Here

Both threads have some very good posts by some very highly regarded people in the industry, and from people who are being directly effected by the crisis, and from a general view-point of indusrty professionals in Australia.
Might I suggest that if you wish to understand where the situation now stands, as best as what anyone can, as as up to the minute as humanly possible, that you check out the 2 threads I've posted links to above, and keep tabs on the open one, as it would seem that some pretty well-informed contributors are keeping an eye on the situation as it comes to hand.


[ 10 September 2001: Message edited by: GoGirl ]
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Old 10th Sep 2001, 11:42
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Anset had to cop it one day.
I remember being in the Pacific,flying for a Pacific Airline and seeing the downtroden something like 2000 pilots being sacked by the likes of,
Hawke,Abels,and the rest of the big bosses like news corp: etc.
These gentlemen had to stay away from home for the last 12 yeras or so and work for various sorts.
Eventually I believe,some of them are getting back home by way of basings which are very common now with asaian airlines,economically prudent for the airlines.
So,what can one say but the tables are turned and every dog has his "DAY"!!!
I am not an Australian pilot so grapes are not sour???,just in case you are wanting to say that.
Its my genuine belief that it was wrong to do what they did to those 2000 pilots.
I was an obsever,pacific islander,working in the pacific.
Mind you,also had a chance to be scab labour,when the EU pilots filled in the positions,but couldn't face that either.
I am glad that I stuck to the principals,and am glad for those pilots who were sacked that they made their ends meet and most of them are still surviving and may one day get back to retire or work in Australia.
No big deal,I think they were better off enjoying flying elsewhere.
All the best to the Sacked pilots of 1989(Austrlia).AND GOOD LUCK TO "ANSETT".

[ 10 September 2001: Message edited by: PPRuNe Towers ]
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Old 10th Sep 2001, 13:39
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Following is the latest press release from Air NZ, looks like Qantas may take over Ansett??

Air NZ and Qantas Start Discussions on Ansett (issued at 1950)

Mon 10 September 2001
The Board of Air New Zealand Limited has offered to sell its Ansett subsidiary businesses to Qantas Airways Limited and has entered into discussions with Qantas, the Acting Chairman of Air New Zealand, Dr Jim Farmer, announced today.

"Ansett is continuing normal operations, and Qantas and Air New Zealand will continue discussions over the next few days on the terms of any acquisition of Ansett by Qantas.

"Any transaction would be subject to due diligence and approvals of the Australian and New Zealand Governments and regulatory approvals, including that of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

"The Board of Air New Zealand expects to be able to make an announcement on the progress of the discussions with Qantas on, or before, Thursday 13 September when the company is due to present its annual results.

"Meantime, Air New Zealand, its major shareholders, Brierley Investment Limited and Singapore Airlines Limited, and the New Zealand Government are continuing to negotiate in good faith to finalise arrangements to provide on-going financial support for the operation of Air New Zealand international and domestic airlines operations," Dr Farmer said.
Old 10th Sep 2001, 13:46
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Is Qantas a home for lame ducks then? Impulse now...........?

Why would they want to take over Ansett?
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Old 10th Sep 2001, 14:00
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Hang on, now I'm completely confused. I thought there was lots of pressure on Air New Zealand and the Australian government because the loss of Ansett would create an effective monopoly by Qantas? Surely if Qantas buys it, the same would apply?

Incidentally, where does this leave Ansett International, of which only 50% is owned by Air New Zealand?
Old 10th Sep 2001, 14:04
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I shouldn't worry about it Guvnor, they'll sort themselves out and everything will be bright and rosy again! In the meantime, why don't you try going out with girls, and who knows, even a non stop talker like you might develop a sex life! We need the peace! I see the 3000 posting anniversary approaches!
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Old 10th Sep 2001, 15:21
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Not So Fantastic

The Guvnor may well be a sad wannabe but he makes more lucid posts than most who post on this forum.
By chasing him around from topic to topic in order to post your vitriol you are the one who looks nasty

Has he done you physical harm or something?

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Old 10th Sep 2001, 17:13
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Red face

I thought I may ask you all out there if you remember the times not so long ago when Civil Aviation Safety Authority, ie CASA, decided to ground all 767's during major holiday periods????? How did that affect Ansett? I think the answer is clear. If fingers need to be pointed, as mentioned in earlier replies, surely CASA would be a good address.
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Old 10th Sep 2001, 20:51
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Don't think we should discount SQ just yet.
Whatever agreements may be reached with QANTAS and whatever they may agree to pay don't be too surprised if SQ don't then come in and top the QF offer.(And that offer could come disguised as Virgin Blue!).
ANZ/Ansett and whoever else may be involved will have to consider their shareholders and employees future first?

[ 10 September 2001: Message edited by: G.Khan ]

[ 10 September 2001: Message edited by: G.Khan ]
Old 10th Sep 2001, 21:03
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Guys some recent news in the Sydney Morning Herald - out on the net at http://www.smh.com.au - looks like it's so long & thanks for all the flights... time to call a broker to grab some Qantas shares!!
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Old 10th Sep 2001, 22:22
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From the NZ papers courtesy of stuff.co.nz
Air NZ's high-flying hopes grounded
11 September 2001

New Zealanders will keep their national carrier but Air New Zealand's billion-dollar dream to be a world player is over.
The national carrier's short-term future appears safe, as major shareholders and Government representatives last night put the finishing touches to a refinancing package that does not include Ansett.

Sources say the details remain "significantly conceptual", but the plan appears to involve an agreement by Brierley's to put in more money, a 10 per cent increase in shareholding by Singapore Airlines, and some form of guarantee by the New Zealand taxpayer over the billion-dollar hole in Air NZ's balance sheet.

Air NZ acting chairman Jim Farmer last night announced it was again trying to sell its Ansett subsidiary business to Qantas Airways Ltd and had begun discussions with the airline.

"Any transaction would be subject to due diligence and approvals of the Australian and New Zealand governments, and regulatory approvals, including that of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)."

ACCC has already indicated that it would not allow such a deal to proceed because of the threat to competition in Australia.

Dr Farmer said Ansett was continuing normal operations, and Qantas and Air New Zealand would continue discussions, over the next few days, on the terms of any acquisition of Ansett by Qantas.

An announcement on the progress of the discussions would be made on or before Thursday, when the company's annual results were presented, he said.

The Press understands Ansett Australia is insolvent and speculation is rife that an announcement over its receivership could be made as early as today.

Ansett, which is losing $1.5 million a day, has stopped advertising in Australia, which along with mass media publicity has seen the carrier's bookings all but grind to a halt.

In another day of revelations:

Singapore Airlines rejected buying Ansett Australia.

Ansett's value has halved from the $1.2 billion Air NZ paid for it.

Air New Zealand's shares, which plunged again on opening, recovered with news of the impending separation of the two carriers, ending slightly higher.

As rumours of Ansett's likely demise spread across the Tasman, holders of Ansett frequent flyer airpoints were reported to be attempting to book tickets in a bid to cash in their points.

Air New Zealand's air points scheme is separate and is guaranteed as long as Air NZ continues to operate.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions has called the debacle "Australia's biggest aviation disaster", and is increasing the heat on Prime Minister John Howard to save Ansett. Mass protests are planned.

Air NZ's long-term future remains an open question post-Ansett. Engineers' Union national secretary Andrew Little said the reasons Air NZ bought Ansett in the first place remained valid.

"If it means cutting lose Ansett Australia there will be ramifications because I don't think Air NZ is viable in the long term as a South Pacific carrier," he said.

"That's not enough given the growing cost of overheads, to sustain the airline well into the future.

"The strategic reason for purchasing Ansett was good the execution of it may be questionable," Mr Little said.

Air NZ announces its annual result on Thursday, and both the airline and the Government say a new deal must be in place by then.
Old 10th Sep 2001, 22:55
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Which is correct:

This from NZ:

"Any transaction would be subject to due diligence and approvals of the Australian and New Zealand governments, and regulatory approvals, including that of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)."

ACCC has already indicated that it would not allow such a deal to proceed because of the threat to competition in Australia.
or this from the SMH?

So desperate was the Transport Minister, Mr Anderson, to avoid certain political ruin on the eve of an election, he twisted the arm of the head of the consumer watchdog, Professor Allan Fels, and urged him to let the market leader, Qantas, into the frame and absolute market dominance.

Finally admitting the catastrophe that has befallen Ansett - and knowing it was only hours away from toppling into a liquidator's hands - Mr Anderson told the chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to allow the unthinkable, and give the green light to negotiations between Qantas and Ansett's parent, Air New Zealand.

The ACCC cannot stop what has now started: the run to a virtual monopoly.
Either way, there's no doubt about it - both the NZ and Australian governments fcuked up - big time.
Old 11th Sep 2001, 01:29
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The Guvnor asks which is correct?

The answer - both are. The first quote was correct when we all went to bed last night down here. The second was correct when we all woke up.

What will be correct in an hour's time is another question.

That's the way it is in Australasian aviation at the moment. As for the paying public - buying a ticket to travel has much the same emotional feel about it as buying a lottery ticket. Speaking as someone who is travelling Wellington-Sydney-Albury, tomrrow, returning Friday. and then Wellington-Sydney-Singapore-London next week I feel a sense of adventure and risk I haven't had in years.

Yes, both governments have stuffed it up. But when did they do it first? When they deregulated/privatised in the first place? When they signed an open skies agreement and then one country immediately reneged on it? Or now?

Then there are directors and managers, past and present, AN and NZ. not to mention some pretty badly behaved major shareholders.......

As someone in Dununda pointed out, just like most accidents this wasn't the result of one stuff up, but a slow accretion of stuff ups by a lot of people over time.
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Old 11th Sep 2001, 01:34
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You guys are out of date. Air NZ have owned 100% of Ansett for nearly 2 years. That's the problem. They got into a bidding war with SQ for the other 50%, paid far too much, left themselves with no cash, and are now unable to deal with AN's losses or recapitalise.
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