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  1. Insolvency and corporate recovery
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The insolvency team of Boyes Turner in Reading is 'one of the strongest in the region', with 'great strength in depth, swift turnaround times and no-nonsense advice'. The team handles both contentious and non-contentious matters, especially asset tracing and recovery cases, administrations and business sales, as well as LPA receiverships. 'Rising star' senior associate Oliver Fitzpatrick represented Quantuma as liquidator of several companies within the Arena Group against multi-million-pound claims concerning directors' breach of duty, misfeasance and antecedence, while 'very experienced and pragmatic litigator' Phil Smith acted in a £6m shareholder dispute for Wilkins Kennedy as the liquidator of Emerald Meats and Emerald Properties. Further recommended is 'tenacious litigator' Chris Branson ('the go-to man on personal insolvency'). Grant Thornton, Begbies Traynor, Antony Batty & Company and CVR Global were advised by the team, which also gained KPMG as a new client in 2017.

Charles Russell Speechlys LLP 's 'experienced' insolvency team is 'frequently involved in high-value insolvency disputes and has strong relationships with insolvency practitioners'. Key areas from the advisory and contentious spectrum include fraud investigations, administrations, restructurings, transactions and non-formal insolvency work, with the retail, restaurant, charity and education sectors being particularly strong throughout 2017. Other specialisms include banking, sports and pharmaceuticals. Most clients come from a corporate background, but the team also engages in individual bankruptcy support. A recent highlight was the representation of RSM Restructuring Advisory as joint liquidator of LBGP during the $3bn winding-up of five collective investment schemes related to the Lehman Brothers insolvency. Prav Reddy ('a delight to work with') advised Nike European Operations Netherlands on a retention-of-title claim concerning the administration of footwear sales company Brantano Retail. Also recommended is team lead James Hyne, while Roger Elford is another main practitioner. Central Bank of Bahrain, Carter Backer Winter and Quantuma form part of the client base.

The insolvency team at Pitmans LLP has 'great strength in depth across all geographical areas, and excellent levels of experience'. The lawyers handle both insolvency proceedings and restructurings in the IT, telecoms, construction, retail, hospitality, healthcare and automotive sectors, among others. In 2017, the number of contentious matters increased, especially in terms of antecedent matters, director claims, bribery, corruption, criminal proceedings, injunctions and asset tracing. In a recent highlight, the 'vastly experienced' Suzanne Brooker and David Williams represented the trustee in a six-figure bankruptcy and the bankrupt's application to annul the proceeding and set aside the judgment, as well as in a claim for the possession of their home. 'Rising star' Stacey Jones, who was promoted to partner in 2017 and has an 'incredible work ethic', acted in a multi-million-pound misfeasance claim against two directors of a company in liquidation. Further recommended are Southampton partner and 'very good strategist' Rick Munro and senior associate Sylvia Yendall, who is 'brilliant at getting to grips with technical detail'.

Stevens & Bolton LLP's 'reassuringly quick, professional and in-depth' insolvency team is able to 'provide the big-firm service at reasonable rates' and is considered particularly 'strong in restructuring matters'. Other key areas are enforcement of security, asset sales, refinancing, cross-border regulatory insolvency recognition, bankruptcy instructions and insolvencies in the insurance sector, among other industries. In an ongoing matter, the 'creative and thoughtful' Tim Carter is advising Australian firm Worrells Solvency and Forensic Accountants as trustee in an attempt to obtain recognition of two bankruptcy appointments in the UK. Another highlight was David Steinberg's work for a Swiss private entrepreneur in his claim as a major creditor concerning the Boris Becker bankruptcy. BDO, Ernst & Young, SecurMed UK and True Telecom were all added to the client base in 2017. Senior associate Rebecca Walker is recommended for her 'excellent technical ability and experience in section 110 restructurings and solvent liquidations'.

The insolvency team at Cripps LLP  is best known for its restructuring and transactional work in distressed situations, while also handling contentious corporate insolvency matters such as misfeasance and wrongful trading claims. Its main areas include media and technology, healthcare, financial services, and the food industry, as well as the private client sector. Managing associate Joanna Ford continued to advise Pretty Legs Hosiery and supervisor BDO on its £700,000 company voluntary arrangement until mid-2017, while practice lead James Beatton assisted J Clubb with its reorganisation and de-merger. Corporate partner Chris Langridge defended CCW Recovery Solutions against creditors' claims in the High Court concerning the administration application of an investment firm. William Nash and PKF Geoffrey Martin & Co. were won as new clients. Liz Barton  left for Doyle Clayton in September 2017.

The 'prompt and commercial' EMW Law LLP gives clients 'the professionalism of a big city firm without the city prices'. The insolvency team offers expertise in litigation, restructuring, refinancing, recovery and insolvency proceedings, such as security and voluntary arrangements, administration appointments and antecedent transactions. The team around 'personable and pragmatic star partner' Damon Watt has experience in the banking, construction, dining, retail, manufacturing, automotive, recycling and recruitment sectors. Recent highlights include the security enforcement and appointment of administrators for AIB Group, which issued winding-up proceedings against its customer Redrose M&E, as well as the restructuring and directors' duties matter for Restaurant Ours and its administrator BM Advisory, which involved a claim from HMRC. Clients also recommend non-contentious insolvency partner Angela Stallard, who continued to advise Drillmec on its multi-million-pound restructuring for the purchase of oil rigs by a Turkish company. Insolve Plus and Scottish Pacific Tradeline are among the new clients from 2017. Frank Bouette joined from Irwin Mitchell in early 2018.

The 'professional and commercial' insolvency department at Gateley Plc in Reading covers liquidation and administration proceedings, bankruptcies, company voluntary arrangements, directors' duties, restructurings and refinancing, as well as fraud investigations and security, lender and regulatory issues on a national and cross-border level. 'Experienced and approachable' practice lead Nicola Kirk, supported by associate Carly Schiff, represented BDO as administrator in relation to the £27.7m proceedings for a marine engineering services provider, and also assisted KPMG with the £4.5m liquidation and interest disposal of a leisure investment venture. The active client roster further includes Wilkins Kennedy, Quantuma, Grant Thornton and Moorfields Advisory.

Irwin Mitchell's insolvency team provides an 'excellent and very personal service', handling both contentious proceedings and restructurings, as well as refinancing work. The Crawley office is well known for working with private clients, as well as local companies and banks. Practice lead Martin Cross and solicitor Alison Bruce represented Astral Education in relation to a multi-million-pound funding that is required to fulfill its business plan, creditor obligations and facility agreements with its Chinese acquirers. In a different highlight, the team advised a Russian individual as stakeholder in a financially distressed banking entity concerning the management of his creditor exposure in Russia, Cyprus, Latvia and Germany. Other active clients include Smith & Williamson, RBS/NatWest, KPMG, BDO and FRP Advisory. Frank Bouette left for EMW Law LLP in late 2017.

Moore Blatch LLP's insolvency team 'always replies promptly to emails, gives sound advice and is very supportive in challenging circumstances'. 2017 saw the arrivals of partner Heather Dobson, who combines 'excellent insolvency knowledge with empathy and an ability to achieve results', and 'natural problem solver' Rebecca Chaplin from Coffin Mew LLP, adding expertise in non-contentious work, as well as the education, leisure and charity sectors, to Mark Osgood's existing team. Other specialist areas of the practice include the representation of banks and crowd-funders against insolvent borrowers, negligent lenders and other professionals, as well as contentious bankruptcy proceedings and insolvencies in the marine industry. In a recent highlight, the team acted for Portland Business & Financial Solutions as administrator of Lavant House School Educational Trust, formulating the strategy of the proceedings and a court application. Osgood and associate Lisa Saxby represented Moore Stephens as administrator of Stay in Style in a highly disputed proceeding worth £2m to £3m. New clients from 2017 include Ashtons Business Recovery, BRI Business Recovery and Insolvency and McTear Williams & Wood.

The insolvency department at Paris Smith LLP is best known for its experience in personal insolvencies, as well as the property, retail, non-profit, financial services and leisure industries, for which it handles contentious matters, asset transactions and restructurings. The team represented CVR Global as a joint trustee in the separate bankruptcies of a husband and a wife, which involved a claim before the High Court concerning the matrimonial home. Mike Pavitt, who 'leads the team well and has good all-round knowledge', was assisted by solicitor Shelley White in the advice provided to Quantuma, which acted as a joint liquidator of Future Route. BRI Business Recovery and Insolvency, James Cowper Kreston and Mazars form part of the active client base. Phillip Baldwin made partner in 2018.

Verisona Law 'has built one of the strongest insolvency teams on the South Coast, particularly in litigation where it is one of the go-to firms in the area', 'punching above its weight with high-profile insolvency liquidation'. The five-partner team's main focus areas include personal insolvency, director disqualification, property, construction and fraud claims. Particular specialism exists in the legal, professional and sports sectors. Recent highlights were the representation of Imogen Kent as trustee in a £6m personal bankruptcy in the High Court, as well as the £2m urgent freezing injunction and breach-of-duty claim that the team enforced for the director of a property company against his bankrupt co-director and shareholder. The practice was further instructed by Investec Bank, RSM, CVR Global and Grant Thornton. Clients recommend 'the wisest insolvency head in the business', David Oliver, who is 'supportive and focused on results', 'highly thought-of insolvency litigator' Neil Stewart and 'specialist insolvency lawyer' Nick Oliver, who 'never misses a trick' and 'has tremendous technical knowledge'. Senior associate Sarah Phillips joined from Gateley Plc  in London in April 2017.

Birkett Long LLP's insolvency practice impresses with its 'very practical and good commercial advice and extremely prompt responses'. The team is best known for its contentious work for insolvency practitioners, private bankrupts and company director clients; the latter mostly seek defence against disqualification claims. Recent highlights include the representation of 24 creditors in their application to remove and replace the administrators of a company with debts in excess of £8m, as well as the advice provided to a former company director regarding misfeasance enquiries from liquidators. CVR Global, Larking Gowen, Kingston Smith & Partners and LB Insolvency Solutions make up parts of the active client portfolio.  Colchester-based partner Kevin Sullivan and associate Tracy England are recommended, while David Wisbey in Chelmsford is also a key practitioner.

The insolvency practice at Birketts LLP focuses on value recovery, antecedent transactions and the representation of company directors, as well as administration proceedings in the construction and shipping industries. In 2017, the team acted for Haslers to obtain a block transfer order for the transfer of an outgoing partner's caseload to the remaining partners. Another highlight was the advice provided to RSM Restructuring Advisory on CPPT Services' company voluntary arrangement and related creditor claims. Ensors, Privilege Finance, Chantrey Vellacott and McTear Williams & Wood are active clients. 'Practical, commercial and knowledgeable' partner Laurence Weeks, who leads the team from Cambridge, is recommended. Litigator Matthew Weston and corporate members Rafael Ruiz and Adam Jones provide services out of the Chelmsford office.

Blake Morgan LLP's insolvency team 'provides an extremely efficient service with a quick turnaround and a sensible commercial approach in pursuing claims and securing the client's objectives as quickly and cost-effectively as possible'. The practice covers corporate and personal administrations, liquidations, bankruptcies, receiverships and voluntary arrangements, as well as transactional and advisory matters. The lawyers have experience in the construction and real estate, healthcare, leisure, retail, technology, utilities and motor sectors. In a recent highlight, the team represented RSM Restructuring Advisory as proposed administrator of online poker companies PKR and PKR Technologies in claims brought by the online platform provider which acted as creditor, and in the sale of the database, software and IP rights. Other key clients include Critchleys and Begbies Traynor. The noted individuals are 'excellent litigator' and senior associate Katie James, who 'has the gravitas and commercial sense of a partner', and senior chartered legal executive Claire White. James leads the team from Reading and Oxford. Senior associate Dan Geddes joined the Southampton office from Lester Aldridge LLP in March 2017. Partner Chris Potts in Oxford specialises in High Court fraud and corporate litigation matters.

Blandy & Blandy LLP's insolvency team handles both contentious and advisory matters, such as corporate turnarounds, voluntary arrangements, administrations, liquidations, receivership, individual bankruptcies, investigations and debt recovery. Recent highlights include team lead David Murray's representation of a manufacturing company as creditor in its retention-of-title claim concerning the administration of Palmer & Harvey Group; he also advised a global technology platform provider on the defence and settlement of several court proceedings, as well as the refinancing and restructuring of the international group. Corporate lawyer David Few advises on insolvency-related transactions, while the real estate and employment partners provide additional support. BDO, Harrisons Business Recovery and Insolvency, Quantuma and KRE Corporate Recovery are among the active clients.

The 'approachable' practice at Brachers in Maidstone combines insolvency and corporate recovery work, advising on insolvency proceedings, corporate risk analysis, shareholders' rights and remedies, directors' duties, asset recovery and fraud investigation. Graham Wallis further provides insolvency portfolio management advice to institutional creditors. Clients come from a variety of sectors, including financial services, education, construction, utilities and transport. The 'astute and commercially minded' Michael Oatham represented KPMG as trustee in a bankruptcy, which involved a court application for the realisation of the bankrupt's interest in a property and resulted in a voluntary sale and a payment of more than £191,000 to the bankruptcy estate. Mazars, Grant Thornton, Baker Tilly and BDO also form part of the client base.

The insolvency practice at Coffin Mew LLP underwent major staff changes in 2017. While former department lead Heather Dobson and associate Rebecca Chaplin left for Moore Blatch LLP in August 2017, the 'hardworking and trustworthy' Alexander Wood brought restructuring and cross-border expertise from Michelmores LLP  in November and supports senior associate Edward Bible and commercial litigator Ian Dawes by dividing his time between the London and Southampton offices. The current focus sectors include renewable energy, financial services, healthcare and pharmaceuticals, construction, farming and manufacturing. In a recent highlight, Wood advised Kace Holdings on its £3m management buyout of Lakesmere, which had entered administration. Resolve Partners was also added to the client portfolio.

The insolvency practice at Dentons in Watford changed its personnel structure recently. After the departure of Carolyn Jones in July 2017 and the retirement of Bill Ramsey in January 2018, banking and commercial litigator Roger McCourt, 'proactive and diligent' counsel Andrea Dunsby and executive Mark Goward became the key contacts, with banking litigator Steven Mills now heading the practice. The lawyers mainly engage in insolvency matters involving banks, individuals and property aspects, as well as corporate restructurings. Recent highlights include the representation of the joint liquidators of United Land Acquisitions and holding company United Land in the complex negotiations for the disposal of a piece of land, as well as the advice provided to a group of mortgage companies on the drafting of a bespoke insolvency policy mainly applying to customers' personal insolvencies. Avison Young, BDO, Begbies Traynor and Jones Lang LaSalle are some of the clients which have instructed the practice for more than a decade.

DMH Stallard LLP's insolvency practice focuses more on contentious than advisory matters and represents practitioners, banks and asset-based lenders, company directors, creditors, and landlords and tenants, as well as individual bankrupts. Key areas of work include administrations, injunctions, fraud and asset tracing matters, property realisation, voluntary arrangements, security enforcement and defence against disqualification or misfeasance claims. The 'excellent' Tim Symes 'combines his extensive specialist insolvency legal knowledge with common sense and a commercial approach to difficult recoveries'. In a recent highlight, he assisted a national charity with the purchase of £1m-worth of procurement contracts from a similar organisation in administration and with ascertaining a secured creditor position. FRP Advisory, Begbies Traynor and Menzies are long-standing clients, while Harveys and McTear Williams & Wood instructed the practice for the first time. After the team merger with Rawlison Butler in August 2017, commercial litigation associate Liane Simmonds joined the firm.

The insolvency department of 'very capable Dorking-based firm' Downs Solicitors LLP 'comprehends the issues and cuts to the point'. Team lead Chris Millar 'knows how to maximise realisations and keeps matters focused', handling contentious corporate and personal insolvency matters. Commercial litigator Martin Steer in Goldaming and non-contentious corporate restructuring and insolvency consultant Nigel Cook are the other key practitioners. In a recent highlight, Millar represented a client in administration against a statutory demand from a beneficiary of his personal guarantee, while Steer acted for the joint liquidators of a wound-up pharmacy regarding the recovery of funds which had been removed from the company's account by the director. Cook is assisting the former director of a company in administration during an investigation into his conduct launched by the Insolvency Service.

Field Seymour Parkes LLP's insolvency practice handles office holder appointments, corporate restructurings and refinancing, asset transactions, fraud issues and the arrangement, validation and enforcement of security for practitioners, companies, directors, investors and funders. Team lead Ian Wood-Smith assisted KRE Corporate Recovery as joint administrator for a fashion clothing and retail sales group in the £1m sale of the business and property lease assignments. Managing partner Jeremy Parkes and asset tracing expert Bill Dixon are other key members of the practice. Partner Chris Brightling left for Girlings in November 2017. BDO, Deloitte, Resolve Partners and Thames Valley Capital have been clients for several years.

The insolvency department of Freeths LLP is spread across two offices in the South East. The practice in Milton Keynes often handles asset transactions for distressed businesses in the drinks and hospitality sector, while the Oxford team is best known for its work in the real estate industry, including insolvency proceedings and wrongful trading or misfeasance claims. Practice lead Simon Hobbs acted for Intertain concerning the liquidation of debtor Jongleurs Comedy prior to the client's sale to Stonegate. Dispute resolution leader Duncan Crine is the main contact in Oxford. The department also advises PwC, Quantuma, Ernst & Young and Opus Restructuring.

'Specialist law firm' Lester Aldridge LLP is 'at the top of its game, particularly in non-contentious insolvency'. The team handles strategic and procedural matters for administrators and liquidators and also advises practitioners on insolvent business transactions, voluntary arrangements, bankruptcies, LPAs, receivership and other distressed property matters. Other major client groups are banks and asset-based lenders, as well as other creditors, stakeholders, contractors and directors of distressed businesses. Strong sectors include real estate, hospitality, marine, healthcare and charity, with the team receiving support from these practices within the firm directly. A highlight from 2017 was the representation of Moore Stephens as administrator of Pinnacle (Angelgate), which included the residential development and sale of a site. JWS Business Recovery, Smith & Williamson, Begbies Traynor and Santander further make up the roster of active clients. Partner Nicholas Keitley and associate Melia Hirst are the key contacts in Southampton.

Boutique insolvency firm Players Solicitors handles both corporate and individual matters for practitioners and sometimes the debtors directly, while also representing creditors. Gary Player is the sole solicitor. He recently represented Begbies Traynor as liquidator for APD Interiors, mainly concerning a dispute with a former customer and the members' voluntary liquidation strategy. Another highlight was the Consumer Credit Act case regarding the realisation of charged property involving Evergreen Investments and its LPA receivers as defendants. 2017 further included the representation of Irish nationals in their UK bankruptcies, as well as block transfer orders, pre-pack transactions, and director disqualification claims. RSM, Kreston Reeves and White Maund have long-standing relationships with the practice.

Spratt Endicott's 'small insolvency team does high-quality and complex work'. Associate Petra van Dijk, who 'has a high level of technical knowledge and thorough attention to detail', leads the practice and focuses mainly on insolvency litigation. Her work includes the issuance and defence of bankruptcy and winding-up petitions, annulments, setting aside statutory demands, wrongful trading and misfeasance claims, administration order applications, insolvency-related transactions, and retention-of-title claims, as well as injunctive relief matters. Begbies Traynor, BRI Business Recovery and Insolvency and Mazars were represented in 2017. Banking and finance litigator Anis Waiz joined the Bicester office from Knights Professional Services Limited in September 2017.

Gavin Pickering's insolvency services at stevensdrake in Crawley include the representation of creditors and directors, both as claimants and defendants, and landlords in insolvent tenant matters, as well as liquidators in claims concerning company directors and third-party recipients of assets. In 2017, he won several cases for US corporate clients, and also defended a director against several claims worth more than £1m. ALD Automotive, BDO and Bretts Business Recovery regularly receive advice.

The insolvency department at Trethowans LLP impresses with its 'excellent level of service, fast response times, strong industry knowledge and value for money', mostly within the local market. 'Responsive and committed' restructuring partner Matt Barker 'always adds value to a situation with innovative ideas and suggestions' and has experience in the manufacturing, haulage, construction and recruitment sectors. Jon Kelly, whose 'advice is considered, comprehensive and clear', is the primary contact for insolvency litigation, particularly in bringing and defending against fiduciary and breach-of-duty claims for insolvency practitioners. Recent highlights include the strategic advice provided to Lakesmere Group regarding a proposed restructuring and its entering administration proceedings. The team also assisted RSM with the restructuring of a multi-office estate agency, followed by its administration and an £85,000 business disposal. SFP Restructuring, Kuflink Bridging, Quantuma and CVR Global make up a portion of the client base.

Clifton Ingram LLP Solicitors' two-partner insolvency team covers both contentious and non-contentious matters for insolvency practitioners based in the Thames Valley. Team lead Barry Niven advises on administration and bankruptcy appointments and business and asset transactions, as well as corporate restructuring, refinancing, retention-of-title claims, winding-up petitions and security validation and enforcement. Partner Jonathan Davis and senior associate Robert Cherry mainly deal with antecedent transactions and asset retrievals and also defend directors against wrongful trading or preference claims.

Ellisons Solicitors' 'speedy and cost-effective' insolvency team has 'excellent knowledge around the subject and supports the client well', covering both contentious and non-contentious matters. Its focus areas include bringing or defending against statutory demands and bankruptcy petitions, and representing corporations and individuals in voluntary arrangements, as well as advising practitioners during administrations and liquidations. In a recent highlight, the 'commercial and sensible all-round expert' Scott Porter, who is 'a tremendous asset on any job', was instructed to defend Southbourne Trading Company in the High Court against a winding-up order petitioned by HMRC concerning one of its subsidiaries. The team also consists of corporate and commercial partner Paul Forsyth on the subject of insolvency-related transactions, including pre-pack sales, loan agreements and business restructurings.

The insolvency department at Furley Page Solicitors provides an 'effective service' during corporate insolvencies and claims by or against directors, with special emphasis on the construction industry. 'Open, clear and honest' Chatham-based associate Natasha Biggs represented a distributor and installer of audio-visual equipment in its retention-of-title claims against the liquidators of a nightclub in order to recover assets that were taken after the nightclub had closed. Another highlight was a £600,000 misfeasance claim issued against two clients who are former company directors, where Biggs was assisted by dispute resolution team lead Peter Hawkes in Canterbury. The third member in the team is insolvency and civil litigation partner George Crofton Martin.

The insolvency team at PDT Solicitors is renowned for its 'class-leading knowledge of the asset-based lending market', 'fast response times' and 'great strength in depth'. Other focus areas on the non-contentious side are invoice finance and restructuring, while the litigators take on formal and informal administration, liquidation, receivership and voluntary arrangement proceedings, as well as claims concerning misfeasance, breach of statutory duties, unlawful dividends and antecedent transactions. Recent highlights include 'very effective and experienced litigator' William Angas' settlement of a long-running loan payment and unlawful dividend claim against client Wilkins Kennedy, which served as liquidator for Infrastructure Holdings EXP. Corporate and finance partner Noel Ruddy, 'the go-to man for asset-based lending',  led the transactional and funding advice provided to Menzies, which was the administrator of Genie CCTV. Angas leads the team together with Dawn Shadwell. Clients further recommend senior associate Ian Lindley, who is 'responsive, committed and has consistently demonstrated an ability to produce quality work'. Corporate finance partner Andrew Hoad joined from asb law LLP in January 2018.

The 'time-conscious and commercially minded' insolvency team at 'solid and traditional firm' Tees Law has a 'strong following from local businesses and directors'. It has experience in claims concerning wrongful trading, illegal dividends, directors' loans and disqualification. The 'accurate and decisive' team lead David Perry, who 'combines sensible advice with an encyclopaedic knowledge of insolvency law', represented the liquidator of a construction company in its undervalue-transaction claim against a shadow director, which resulted in the recovery of more than £200,000. In another highlight, Perry acted for over a hundred farming clients in relation to the administration of Wellgrain, which included claims brought on behalf of National Farmers' Union members seeking the release of stored grain, as well as monetary compensation. Solicitor Holly McColgan assisted the ex-wife and son of a bankrupt with their claim of interest in a property owned by the bankrupt. Begbies Traynor, LB Insolvency, CVR Global and FRP Advisory are regular clients.

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Legal Developments in South East for Insolvency and corporate recovery

  • How does insolvency impact employment rights?

    Following the liquidation of a major construction firm, urging the government to aim to take protective measures for all its employees who will be now out of work, this leads to the questioning as to how far the insolvency of a company can impact upon an employee’s rights.
    - Hudson McKenzie

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