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Silicon Graphics The Almighty Buck

SGI Sells Alias Subsidiary to Accel-KKR 154

dmehus writes "SGI on Thursday announced it has agreed to sell its Alias subsidiary for $57.5 million in cash to Accel-KKR. Interestingly enough, Accel-KKR owns GroceryWorks, which powers and provides the online version of Safeway. After transaction costs and other items, SGI said it expects net proceeds from the sale come in line at $50 million. Slashdot covered this story in February, saying that SGI was rumoured to be in talks with an unnamed private equity firm, but now it is confirmed."
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SGI Sells Alias Subsidiary to Accel-KKR

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  • $57.5? (Score:3, Funny)

    by matticus ( 93537 ) on Friday April 16, 2004 @06:52AM (#8879629) Homepage
    "SGI on Thursday announced it has agreed to sell its Alias subsidiary for $57.5 in cash to Accel-KKR."

    I'll pay $58!!
  • by 53cur!ty ( 588713 ) on Friday April 16, 2004 @06:57AM (#8879646) Homepage

    Blah, blah blah.

    Accel-KKR also owns globalCoal [globalcoal.com] and Savista [savistacorp.com] just another shark trying to get a corner on the market so they can control it. I am interested where globalCoal fits into the big picture though...

    Look, see, understand [technicalknow-how.com]

    • by Anonymous Coward
      OMG, who modded that interesting (and then who thought to mod it troll in response?)

      Kids, it's humor. Dry humor, but better than average for the slashdot crowd. Let me break it down.

      Accel-KKR now owns alias|wavefront, a 3D graphics software company
      As well as global coal, a company that trades coal
      As well as Savisa, a company that is in the food service industry.

      So the parent post says, gosh, all this adds up to mean that they're cornering the market.

      Which is so ludicrious it must be funny, not "intere
  • by Anonymous Coward
    They will probably sell a lot more of the non essential business units as they have done with Cray and Alias Wavefront. They have even resorted to the ever so sleazy practice of exporting jobs to India.

    It is said a fox will knaw off its own leg to escape from a trap. We can see the same is true of two bit companies with outdated technology.
    • I don't see exporting jobs to India as sleazy but as far as I can tell SGI isn't doing it anyway.
    • 1. Some proof that they outsourced to India?
      2. Its getting to the point where a tech company that does not outsource in some way is becoming the exception.
    • I call bullshit. Which jobs mr. Coward? Even better give me names and I'll do your fact-checking for you.

      Tech support- If you call technical support within the U.S., you get the U.S. offices.

      Engineering- based in MN, with developers in CA and other locations in the U.S.

      Now personally I would love to see executive management jobs shipped to India... we could probably get a CEO for about $30,000 ... now *that* would be some serious cost savings.

      Disclaimer- I am an SGI employee, but opinions posted are mi
  • Open Maya? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Maljin Jolt ( 746064 ) on Friday April 16, 2004 @06:59AM (#8879654) Journal
    I would like to see Maya at Sourceforge. THAT would be a news for nerds and stuff that matters.
    • Heh. Poor SourceForge would probably catch fire, under the weight of Maya's rumoured 25+ million [macworld.com] lines of source code. Plus, I have a sneaky suspicion it's mainly C++, which of course would be chanceless when it comes to attracting open/free software developers. ;) Heh. It'd still be cool, though.
    • Maya? Hey, we got PovRay, what more do we need? Well, sorta...
  • From the press release:

    This transaction may not occur or may occur on terms substantially different from those described in this press release.

    Will Alias management agree?
  • Slightly OT... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ksdd ( 634242 ) on Friday April 16, 2004 @07:04AM (#8879678)
    ...but damn, I do love seeing that old-school Silicon Graphics logo /. uses for the increasingly rare SGI post. Whatever mojo SGI had left was certainly gone after they went with that Comic Sans-looking text logo...
  • Good move... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Friday April 16, 2004 @07:04AM (#8879681)
    SGI doesn't have any other consumer products, and what the Maya product needs now is marketing. There's really not too many other things they can do to develop the product left... it's a matter of sales more than development.
    • What is left at SGI? (Score:3, Informative)

      by becker ( 190314 )
      A company in the position of SGI needs press releases to keep saying "I'm still here". A large percentage of the press releases were about Maya and Alias.
      • Actually, there's a lot of attention from the database field and stuff, given to the SGI Altix line - think: 256 CPU boxes running Linux running Oracle on top of that. ;-)
        SGI is headed for a big-time comeback. Just wait and see...
    • If there's not really much left to develop, then why are there third party plugins at all ?
      Not to mention the many plugins that are in development, coming from other platforms (primarily 3ds max).

      That said.. it's a good thing for Alias that they're rid of the SGI mass that was dragging them :)
    • Re:Good move... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by quantax ( 12175 )
      " There's really not too many other things they can do to develop the product left... it's a matter of sales more than development."

      You've obvously haven't worked with Maya too much as thats a rather ridiculous statement given the following:

      1. Maya cannot export or import animations in any really useful way. I myself have programmed as a result, my own importers and exporters for the program.

      2. Maya's ability to import skin weighting is more or less broken.

      3. MEL, maya's built-in scripting language
      • As to multi-dimensional arrays, MEL isn't meant for heavy computation or anything like that. And I don't really see the need for extensive string manipulation functions, since MEL isn't meant to be a general purpose language.

        Rather, MEL is more of a support/glue language. Do you have some menial task that you keep doing over and over? Write a MEL script that does the same thing, and make an icon for it on the shelf. Have you gone to the trouble of modelling a head for a character and all the different blen
  • What will I do without my weekly dose of Jennifer Garner?!
  • The Oakland tribute reports that a Billionaire increases Safeway stake [oaklandtribune.com]. Accel-KKR owns GroceryWorks which is Safeway, Inc. exclusive online shopping provider.

    Answers and more... [technicalknow-how.com]

  • by tehcyder ( 746570 )
    So is the $7.5 million legal fees?

    IANAL but sometimes I wish I was.

  • by Viol8 ( 599362 ) on Friday April 16, 2004 @07:11AM (#8879709) Homepage
    Is this a futile attempt at selling off the family silver in an effort to keep their failing business solvent or is it some shrewd move to raise cash for more profitable enterprises?
    Is SGI a lost cause or is there life in it yet?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      They've been stumbling round like an extra from Dawn of the Dead for the last five years, just waiting for someone to finally pull the trigger.


      "Get the one who looks like Burt Reynolds"

      KER-PING! SPLAT! THUD!

      "Get the one who looks like a viable high-end computer company"

      KER-PING! SPLAT!


      Just waiting for that final THUD...!
    • Altix. That's the only hardware with hundreds, maybe thousands of CPUs running Linux currently. The database people are all drooling over it.
      Stay tuned, looks like SGI is going to come back in a spectacular way.
  • So... this merger... Is it good? Or is it ..?

    Not trying to troll, can someone please explain the significance of this news?
    • Maybe because it's barely 7am on the east coast of the US (and 4am on the west). Most of the nerds are either still sleeping or just going to sleep (the true nerds).
    • It's good for SGI. They're in a position of a) needing money -- and $50m is nothing to be sneezed at, and b) needing publicity. This gives them a way to show the business world that they are still alive (even if they are selling their own organs to remain so) in the hopes that other companies may look at what SGI are working on and make an offer for some of it. If that happens, SGI gets more revenue, and slims down it's business to the point where it can focus on key projects to increase its revenue stream.
    • It's good for SGI - they need the money.

      Although it's rather sad for anyone who remembers the mid 1990's when the game indstry was starting to move into 3D and SGI was still growing in every direction; Microsoft bought up SoftImage in order to push Windows NT into the workstation market, SGI responded by buying up Alias and Wavefront for millions of dollars in shares.

      At that time, SGI had a near monopoly on 3D development systems, but management weren't willing to develop competitive PC-priced desktop s
      • by demachina ( 71715 ) on Friday April 16, 2004 @10:00AM (#8881042)
        Also about this time SGI's ground breaking new system was the O2. It was really good at some niche video functions, including video textures. Unfortunately it had truly dismal memory bandwidth to the CPU, I guess they just forgot that this is one of the most basic building blocks of a computer with good performance. It was trailing just about everything on SPEC benchmarks before it even released(and it was late).

        They sold a bunch of them to people who wanted cheap SGI's, like ILM. I speculate to this day that the O2 was a key contributor to ILM making so many bad movies during the era they relied on those steaming piles. They were just crushingly slow and I imagine any sucked the creativity out of any artist that had to use one, especially after they saw Maya running on a $2,000 PC or a Mac.

        SGI does some really interesting niche technology but they have never had a CPU strategy that worked in any sustained way and they completely lost it in graphics when they kept trying to build multiboard graphics monstrosities while GLINT came out with the first graphics chip, followed by 3DFX, Nvidia and ATI. Carver Mead outlined a long time ago how to design electronics and that was to put everything on a CMOS chip. SGI didn't learn that lesson for some reason so all their graphics systems were big, bulky, somewhat unreliable and most importantly way to expensive to manufacture versus a mass produced GPU.
        • by Anonymous Coward
          What crack are you smoking?

          The O2 had EXCEPTIONAL effective memory bandwidth, somewhere on the order of 1GBps, with 2.1GBps thoeretical. That's why it's STILL good at doing DV processing. There isn't a consumer product available *today* that can compete in DV streaming, at *any* price. Yes, the CPU was shit (maybe not shit, but certianly over priced if you were doing CPU intensive stuff). No argument there. But the memory system was, and still is, quite exceptional. And it was quite a while before Ma
          • What crack are you smoking!

            Yes it had exceptional total memory bendwidth and bandwidth to all the graphics and video gear and its a marketing bullet they used with great success to sucker people like you in to thinking it has great memory performance when it doesn't.

            The problem is the memory pipe to the actual CPU is completely crippled. They improved it a little in later revs but it consistently trails a lowly PC in the definitive memory bandwidth benchmark, STREAMS:

            http://www.dl.ac.uk/TCSC/disco/Bench
          • "Somewhat unreliable my ass, this fellow likely has never even laid naked eye on/or worked on one of their big iron systems."

            If you read the original post you would notice I was talking about their multiboard graphics systems. With all those chips and mechanical interconnects they simply had no chance of matching the reliability of a single board Nvidia or ATI card with single chip GPU. My point was SGI was late in jumping to a single chip GPU, they were still building complex multiboard graphics systems
        • Rubbish, O2 had stunning memory bandwidth and a unified memory architecture where the graphics hardware was intergrated with a very fast memory controller. It had memory bandwidth out the wazoo.

          O2 was also inexpensive compared to earlier offerings. The main weakness was that it was delayed in design (as usual) and when it arrived although initially it blew PCs away in many respects 3D cards on PCs caught up to it pretty quickly or were on par with it at launch. After that the design cycles of 6 months at c
        • Actually, you got it backwards.
          At the time, the O2s had an excellent bandwidth. SGI stuff, by definition, beats the hell out of everything in terms of internal bandwidth.
          What dragged the O2s back, though, was the CPU - the MIPS were already getting kinda slow at the time.
          Fortunately, SGI is now switching en-masse to Intel CPUs and Linux, while preserving the clever high-performance NUMA architecture. Since Linux is gaining traction, there will be some interesting news coming up soon. ;-)
          • Reference the STREAMS benchmarks post below AGAIN. The problem was not the memory bandwidth to the video and graphics hardware. The problem was the feeble 80 MB/sec to the CPU which made it horrible for ALL general purpose computing applications like Maya and Pro/E and helped put SGI out of these markets.
  • Increases in computer power and wide availability of previously obscure and expensive software has led to big problems for CGI companies. Expect massive losses to be posted by ILM later this year
  • Shame, (Score:5, Insightful)

    by xirtam_work ( 560625 ) on Friday April 16, 2004 @07:49AM (#8879881)
    I had almost expected Apple to buy the rights to Alias. The Mac OS X version rocks, and they've got billions in the bank, $50m would have been pocket change. It could have complemented Shake and Logic, bring 3D into their professional tools. And then we could have looked forward to iModel, or whatever, as the low end consumer version.

    Ah well, wasn't to be.
    • Re:Shame, (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rampant mac ( 561036 )
      "And then we could have looked forward to iModel, or whatever, as the low end consumer version."

      That's sort of pushing it, don't you think? I mean, the applications in the iLife suite are consumer applications that "most" consumers actually use.

      Digital camera? Hell, my parents owned one before I finally broke down and purchased mine. iPhoto works great for me.

      Digital camcorder? I don't have one, but someday. iMovie would fit the niche perfectly.

      Music? iTunes works like a charm (so much, in fact, tha

      • You have a good point. iModel would certainly be a bit of a stretch, but I can see a lot of the people using iMovie enjoying playing with special effects. They probably wouldn't be doing heavy poly-modeling, but they might use it for particle systems or as a Poser-like animation program, if they provided some stock geometry. And amatuer game programmer/modders would dig it for sure!
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Apple did try to buy Maya over a year ago but the Alias|Wavefront team didn't react fast enough and Steve pulled the deal.


      But you hit the nail on the head. I expected Apple to buy them as well...then kill the Windows port (as they love doing oh so much). It would have made a great addition to Shake, Logic, and Final Cut Pro.


      That said, I predict that Apple will make another bid sometime down the road. Maybe Accel-KKR will take Steve's offer.

    • Re:Shame, (Score:3, Interesting)

      by quantax ( 12175 )
      Not really by my count. Look at your current highend Macs, the G5's; these systems do not come with serious 3D cards, they come with mid-end gamer cards. Let me ask you, how are you supposed to do serious 3D animation work on a Radeon 9800 Pro? Have you ever tried? It isn't very productive.

      If Mac is serious about the 3D market, (and it honestly hasn't demonstrated it is, atleast for professional level work), they will start offering highend cards to their customers, cards such as the Nvidia Quadro FX 1100
      • If Mac is serious about the 3D market, (and it honestly hasn't demonstrated it is, atleast for professional level work), they will start offering highend cards to their customers, cards such as the Nvidia Quadro FX 1100.

        First of all, it's Apple, not Mac. That's about as dumb as referring to SGI as "Onyx" or calling Microsoft "Windows."

        Second of all, Apple can't offer to their customers a video card if the video card company doesn't make the hardware or drivers for it.

        • I can see where he's coming from to be honest. I hadn't considered some of the high end video cards. I think Apple do need to encourage some real support from the high end card makers. it would be great to see a really powerful card as an option on the G5 - with native 64bit drivers as well.
    • ...and our entire studio came this close to converting to Mac's (we're 100% Maya-centric, the loss of the windows version (see what happened to Logic) would have been, entertaining). Damn!
  • by vasqzr ( 619165 ) <vasqzr.netscape@net> on Friday April 16, 2004 @07:58AM (#8879932)
    SGI paid $500 million to buy them in the first place. Boy, how times have changed.

    NEW YORK, Feb. 7 / -- Silicon Graphics, Inc. (NYSE: SGI), Alias Research, Inc.
    (Nasdaq-NNM:ADDDF), and Wavefront Technologies, Inc. (Nasdaq: WAVE) today
    announced that they have entered into definitivemerger agreements. The
    combined organizations bolster Silicon Graphics' commitment to the
    entertainment andcreative design markets, and allow the company to architect
    the foundation necessary for software partners andcustomers to build the
    digital studio of the 21st Century.

    As a result of the mergers, Silicon Graphics will form a wholly owned,
    independent software subsidiary that will focus on developing the world's most
    advanced tools for the creation of digital content. Rob Burgess,
    currentlypresident and CEO of Alias, will become president of the new company,
    and Mike Noling, currently president andCEO of Wavefront, will report to
    Burgess as vice president of operations. Martin Plaehn, currently
    Wavefront'sexecutive vice president of corporate and product development, will
    also report to Burgess to lead the technical team.

    Under terms of the agreements, which were approved by the boards of directors
    of the respective companies, Alias stockholders will receive the equivalent of
    0.90 shares of Silicon Graphics' common stock for each share of Aliascommon
    stock owned. Wavefront stockholders will receive 0.49 shares of Silicon
    Graphics' common stock for eachshare of Wavefront common stock owned. The
    closing prices for Silicon Graphics, Alias and Wavefront commonstock on Fr
    iday, February 3, 1995, the last trading day prior to the board meetings to
    approve the transaction, were$31.25, $20.875 and $12.625, respectively. The
    shares to be issued by Silicon Graphics have a current market valueof
    approximately $500 million.
    • by SmackCrackandPot ( 641205 ) on Friday April 16, 2004 @08:11AM (#8879999)
      The Toronto Star reported this as well:
      (BUSINESS, Wednesday, February 8, 1995, p.B1)

      As part of a three-company merger, Silicon Graphics Inc. of Mountain View, Calif., is expected to pay the equivalent of about $500 million (Canadian) in shares for Toronto-based Alias when the deal closes in June.

      Silicon Graphics said it would pay for Alias and Wavefront with shares. The Wavefront purchase price is estimated at about $150 million (U.S.).

      Alias stockholders will receive the equivalent of 0.90 of a Silicon Graphics share for every share of Alias stock. Wavefront shareholders will get 0.49 of a share, the announcement added.

      The new subsidiary will team with Silicon Studio, a unit formed last year by Silicon Graphics to focus on the entertainment market and to develop software tools.

      The software will be used by film makers, game developers and others in the entertainment industry to create interactive titles.

      Analysts were largely supportive.

      "It's a marriage made in heaven," said Charles Finnie, of Volpe Welty & Co.
    • by peter303 ( 12292 ) on Friday April 16, 2004 @08:14AM (#8880015)
      I recall Cray be purchased for hundreds of millions then sold [ to Tera ] for tens of millions.
  • Oh Oh... (Score:4, Informative)

    by MKalus ( 72765 ) <mkalus@gmaiOOOl.com minus threevowels> on Friday April 16, 2004 @08:29AM (#8880130) Homepage
    If it is the same KKR [kkr.com] as in this article [spiegel.de] in "Der Spiegel" [spiegel.de] this might not bode well.

    It seems all KKR is known for is in gutting companies and selling the rest for a profit.
  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Friday April 16, 2004 @08:29AM (#8880132) Homepage Journal
    I thought they went out of business years ago. What can you say about them really? They used to be cutting edge back in the day. I don't see a bright future for many of the old school workstation manufacturers. Their business models have been eviscerated and most of them don't seem to have any idea of how to re-invent themselves in this era. I'm really surprised most of them have managed to hang around this long.

    Maybe if the survivors took a step back and said "Yeah being clever engineers is good and all, but what do our customers need?" Find something Wintel can't or isn't providing right now and figure out how to bring that to the market and a reasonable price.

    • Price might be the issue. SGI prices their gear pretty much parallel to the Sun equivilent. Whatever a Sun V880 costs with 8 CPUs is probably what you will pay for an Origin whatever with 8 CPUs (whatever the current comparable product is).

      I can only guess SGI screwed up marketing. SGI should still be in competition to Sun, but instead they have kind of faded. There are still certain industries that rely on their hardware, but that appears to be shrinking. Having worked with Power Series to Origin 3800
    • Actually they're reinventing themselves as we speak, and successfully so, apparently. They're switching pretty fast to Intel CPUs / Linux OS, while keeping the high-bandwidth NUMA stuff to glue everything together. That's the SGI Altix product line, which not many people know about because it was pushed into production early this year.
      Expect some serious changes in the supercomputing arena pretty soon... ;-)
    • I own an Indigo and Indigo II. I think SGI made the coolest computers. They look better than any custom PC I have seen. Plus I don't see much wrong with Irix. My dream would be to see a consumer Mips based machine in one of thier ultra cool boxes with Multimedia TV, DVD, Sound, then port a few Games and I would be happy. Mabey add a big screen TV. An alternative to Mac and PC.
  • Is it a bad sign that when I first skimmed over the headline, I thought there was going to be an Alias/Stargate SG1 crossover?
  • Figures. You can get Maya demos for Windows, but try getting one to run on your old SGI box. Alias acts like SGI hardware doesn't exist, even though SGI owned them.

    I was hoping to get a demo copy to put my MXI graphics to work on my SGI Octane. Nope!

    Poor SGI, I hope they can make a comeback. Somehow.

    They are running out of things to sell off. Cray? Gone. Their buildngs? Gone (I believe they lease them now).

    Gotta look good for the shareholders. The American way.
  • by NoMoreNicksLeft ( 516230 ) <john@oyler.comcast@net> on Friday April 16, 2004 @09:22AM (#8880593) Journal
    That that was the price of a single seat license for Wavefront.
  • by Genjurosan ( 601032 ) on Friday April 16, 2004 @09:32AM (#8880707)
    In my opinion, I fear that this isn't very good news for the people at Alias; however, it doesn't surprise me. When the product dropped in price, the marketing costs soared in an attempt to reach a larger market. Even last year, Alias must have flown 50% of their staff to SD for SIGGRAPH, and they still held, and sponsored, ridiculous parties, including a private party with 'Rocket From The Crypt' (damn good show). Has anyone seen the Alias office in downtown Toronto? Yes, stainless steel, custom glass, pool tables, and hundreds of fancy display devices cost a LOT of money. The senior leadership at Alias always acted like SGI was the plague.. eventually, your master will write you off when you don't show them any respect. You can read KKRs site to tell that they are not interested in Maya or Studio, they are interested in money. Plain and simple. All this is simply speculation of course......time will tell the real outcome of this development.
    • Hmmm -- I work here at Alias (and I'm not an authorized spokesperson for them, so this post contains *my* opinions). There's not much stainless steel -- it's mostly plain old industrial steel -- welded. It's a 110 year old brick building that, as far as I'm aware, was renovated by the owners (at their expense) to our specifications, some 6 or so years ago, -- in exchange for this a long term lease is in place.

      50% went to siggraph? Maybe 5% -- probably not even that many.

      Great party -- yes, I admit we know
      • Ok, maybe not 50%, but it was still quite a few people.

        The cost of the build out is certanly figured into the cost of the lease. Come down to my building at the bank and I'll show you the difference. 15" monitors are standard and the only steel in the building partitions the toilets.

        The difference between SGI and KKR is the fact that SGI was in a vertical market. KKR isn't passionate about 3D like a large number of people in SGI were/are. This is what worries me. When Studio sales slip for a quarter
  • "SGI makes supercomputers, other heavy-duty servers, and workstations, which are beefed-up PCs used for demanding tasks such as 3D modeling and scientific simulations."on CNET [com.com].

    Beefed up PCs? Interesting, they obviously can't tell the difference in construction, design, quality, graphics fidelity, OS of a "PC" versus an SGI box. I'd love to see a PC link 1024 CPUs as a single image system without ccNUMA. CNET needs to hire better reporters.

    • SGI did make beefed up PCs for a while, they tried several times. They gave up on it several times though. Now they make Itanium based servers running Linux. The reporter is probably just vaguely remembering earlier SGI announcements, forgivable really when a company has thrashed around as much as SGI has.
  • Didn't they also sell MIPS? I was under the impression that all their offerings were now some flavor of Intel chips.

    At the end of the day, what now makes SGI really any different than Intergraph used to be? Intel? Check. Cool looking boxes? Check. Future in the high end graphics world? Um....
    • High end graphics maybe not anymore, but check out SGI's Altix, which is the most powerful hardware architecture currently running Linux.
    • Re:MIPS (Score:3, Informative)

      They didn't sell MIPS to any entity. The spun it off as an independent company and gave the SGI stock holders MIPS shares in proportion to their SGI stock holdings. Basically they gave MIPS to SGI stock holders as an independent company.
  • That's surprising. Alias/Wavefront's Maya package is the leading product in the high-end animation industry today, having displaced Softimage. Arguably, it's SGI's most successful business. Yet they sold it for only $57 million.

    It looks like Alias is going private, with the management buying the company with assistance from VCs. There may be other terms to this deal, but it's not clear how SGI benefits, other than the cash.

    • Alias/Wavefront's Maya package is the leading product in the high-end animation industry today, having displaced Softimage.

      And how large is that market really? I was under the impression that the US 3d animation industry has largely been in decline for the past four years (at least it seems that way from the layoffs and closings of the large studios, and things I've heard and read).

      Arguably, it's SGI's most successful business.

      I've heard that it's SGI's most publicly visible business, but that SGI mak

  • by theolein ( 316044 ) on Friday April 16, 2004 @06:27PM (#8887644) Journal
    That amount of cash would have been peanuts for Apple and Apple would finally have something in the 3D segment of the market.

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