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Portrait ofPatrick Groves

Patrick Groves


CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang LLP
Cannon Place
78 Cannon Street
United Kingdom
Languages English

Patrick has particular experience in the structuring and launch of closed and open-ended Pan-European and UK alternative investment funds, with a particular focus on the real estate, debt, infrastructure and renewables sectors. His practice also includes clubs, co-investments, complex multi-party joint ventures and downstream investments, as well as the full range of fund advisory matters such as co-invest and carried interest arrangements and investor advisory work. Patrick’s clients include a range of institutional, private equity and boutique fund managers and investors.

Patrick is recognised as a Next Generation Partner for real estate investment funds by the Legal 500 (2022-2024) and as an Up and Coming Partner by Chambers (2022-2024). He is described in Chambers UK 2024 as “a pleasure to work with” and “clearly very experienced” and as “well respected for his practice advising large real estate funds on a range of mandates”.

Patrick sits on the AREF (Association of Real Estate Funds) Education & Training Committee and was previously a founding member of AREF’s FutureGen Committee.

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"Patrick is a pleasure to work with, very responsive and clearly very experienced."

Chambers, 2024

"Patrick Groves is well respected for his practice advising large real estate funds on a range of mandates, including closed and open-ended fund launches and restructurings."

Chambers, 2024

"Patrick Groves is a stand out lawyer. He’s patient, thoughtful and succinct, both in his interactions with you and his legal drafting. He can take a complex problem apart, suggest a way to deal with it, listen carefully to your opinion, and work collaboratively with you to agree a way forward. A rare beast indeed."

Legal 500, 2022

"He gives great advice, and has the ability to deal with deadlines and coordinate complicated projects."

Chambers, 2022


  • 2010 – Legal Practice Course (Distinction), Kaplan Law School, London
  • 2008 – Graduate Diploma in Law (Commendation), BPP Law School, London
  • 2007 – History BA, University of Bristol
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Funds And Waterfall Structures
This briefing focuses on the use of distribution waterfalls and carried interest structures in funds. It covers:What is carried interest?What is a distribution waterfall?How does a basic waterfall operate?Hurdle ratesCatch upWhole-fund v deal-by-deal­Hy­brid waterfall struc­turesO­pen-ended fundsESG-linked carried interestFirst loss mechanisms What is carried interest? “Carried interest” is a form of per­form­ance-re­lated remuneration, where a fund sponsor or manager is rewarded with a share of fund profits where the fund has outperformed certain performance targets (often referred to as “hurdles”). In order for the sponsor to become entitled to a carried interest, the fund must typically first have provided the investors with a return of their capital invested, plus a return on that capital of an amount equal to the hurdle. As a form of profit share, a carried interest differs from a performance fee, which is often calculated in a similar manner but which is paid to the sponsor as a fee for provision of services (and which may therefore attract VAT and be taxed as income in the hands of the sponsor). In contrast, as of the date of publication of this briefing, carried interest should, if structured correctly and for UK tax purposes, be capable of being treated as a capital (rather than income) return in the hands of UK tax resident individual carried interest holders. For this reason, carried interest has historically been greatly favoured by fund managers as an effective and efficient means of incentivising (and retaining) management team members and providing per­form­ance-driv­en alignment of interest with investors. What is a distribution waterfall? A “distribution waterfall” refers to the ‘cascading’ order of priority by which net profits (income profits and capital gain) are distributed between the investors and sponsor of a fund. The structure of a waterfall will often vary depending on various factors, including the investment strategy, legal form and geography of the fund. This note refers to the use of carried interest and waterfall structures in the context of private funds, but it should be noted that similar mechanisms are often employed in other investment structures outside of funds, such as joint ventures, clubs, co-investments and segregated mandates. How does a basic waterfall operate? The structure and operation of the waterfall will typically be set out in the main fund agreement (such as a limited partnership agreement). In its most basic form, a waterfall might have the following sequential tiers: Hurdle rates The hurdle rate is typically expressed as a specified percentage internal rate of return (“IRR”) on the investors’ invested capital. The hurdle rate may vary depending on the investment strategy and targeted returns of the fund. Strategies which target higher returns typically with higher accompanying risks (such as value-add or opportunistic funds) may adopt a higher hurdle rate than strategies with lower return targets and/or risk profiles. However many private funds investing into alternatives will employ a base hurdle rate of between 7% to 9% IRR. Occasionally, other forms of hurdle may be adopted, such as a specified investment multiple on investors’ invested equity, either instead of or in conjunction with an IRR based hurdle. Other fund waterfalls have adopted tiered hurdle structures with differing carried interest sharing ratios. For example, the sponsor might receive a carried interest equal to 20% of profits over a first hurdle of 8% IRR, increasing to 25% of profits over a second hurdle of 12% IRR. Certain investors have however viewed such arrangements with caution, on the basis it can incentivise the management team to take increased risks in executing investment decisions. Finally, some funds have adopted “floating hurdles”, where the hurdle rate can vary from time to time. Such arrangements are not widespread but can be seen, for example, in private debt funds where the underlying loan investments may be originated at floating interest rates and investment returns will therefore vary accordingly over time. Catch up A catch up mechanism operates to provide the sponsor with an accelerated share of profits with the aim of ensuring the sponsor receives a specified percentage of the total fund profits. Typically, the catch up will apply between tiers 3 and 4 in the above waterfall example, and will apply to “catch up” the sponsor’s share of profits to its specified carried interest sharing percentage. For instance, in the example waterfall shown above, while the sponsor will receive, as a carried interest, 20% of profits above the hurdle, it will not have received 20% of total profits, as investors have already received the preferred return before any distribution of carried interest is made. A catch up might seek to rectify this by providing the sponsor with 100% of profits until it has received 20% of total profit distributions (i.e. excluding return of capital). Only once the sponsor has caught up to that 20% share would distributions then revert to the 80% / 20% split. In practice, the rate at which the sponsor is caught up (if at all) will vary depending on the fund strategy and the bargaining power of the stakeholders. While 100% rates of catch up are not uncommon in certain private equity and venture capital funds, we often see variations and in a private real estate context it is more commonly 50% / 50%. Whole fund vs deal-by-deal There are two main types of waterfall structures: “whole-fund” and “deal-by-deal”. They are often known as “European-style” (whole-fund) and “Amer­ic­an-style” (deal-by-deal), by reference to the locations where they had traditionally been pre-eminent. However those geographic distinctions have over the years become increasingly blurred. Whole Fund: Under the whole fund model, the waterfall is applied cumulatively in respect of contributions to, and distributions from, all investments made by the fund. This is generally seen as more favourable to investors, as the sponsor will not participate in carried interest until the investors have received a return of their invested capital plus the preferred return across all investments. This would typically not occur until the late-stage disposals made by the fund (i.e. the sponsor’s carried interest entitlements are back-ended until the end of the fund’s life). Deal-by-deal: Under the deal-by-deal model, the waterfall is applied separately in respect of each investment. This structure generally favours the sponsor, who may (subject to performance of individual investments) become entitled to carried interest, irrespective of the profitability (or losses) made on other investments. Due to this risk, investors into funds adopting the deal-by-deal model will often expect greater protection in the form of escrow, clawback or guarantees in order to mitigate the risk of carried interest overpayments to the sponsor (had the carried interest been calculated on a whole-fund basis). Hybrid waterfall structures Each of the whole-fund and deal-by-deal model, on its own, tends to favour one stakeholder’s interests over the other. Hybrid waterfall variations can however be used to strike a compromise and address specific goals. For example, a reduced carried interest rate can be applied on a deal-by-deal basis but then, once investors have recouped their capital and preferred return on a total return basis, the carried interest rate can be increased and the waterfall converted to a whole fund structure. Alternatively, the waterfall can be applied on a cumulative basis in respect of realised investments (but not from unrealised investments). The effect of this is that the sponsor can be rewarded more quickly for successful investments, but that losses from any subsequent unsuccessful realised investment which brings the fund below the hurdle will need to be made up by future distributions before the manager becomes entitled to further carried interest. Open-ended funds This note generally considers carried interest and waterfalls in the context of closed-ended fund structures. Per­form­ance-re­lated remuneration models have typically been less common in open-ended funds, which tend to prioritise long-term income returns over capital appreciation (and where capital proceeds are typically reinvested into the fund portfolio rather than distributed to participants). Where they have been employed, it was often in the form of a performance fee rather than a profit sharing arrangement. That being said, various open-ended funds have adopted per­form­ance-re­lated profit sharing structures (and this trend has increased in recent years). However these generally operate differently to closed-ended waterfall models, with the promote often being based on rolling calculation periods, with a notional IRR calculation applied to the starting and ending net asset values and related cashflows in respect of the applicable calculation period. Given the inherent differences between the closed and open-ended models, these promote arrangements are outside the scope of this note. ESG-linked carried interest Carried interest has traditionally been linked to the performance of funds against financial hurdles. However, the increased recent industry focus on ESG considerations, have seen certain stakeholders look to link carried interest and waterfalls to ESG, impact and sustainable investment criteria. This has proved an effective means of investors holding sponsor to account for their ESG performance, and for certain sponsors to differentiate themselves from competitors in a market that has seen a recent proliferation of sustainable investment strategies. There are varying methods of linking carried interest to ESG performance. For example, a portion of the traditional financial return-based carried interest may be held back subject to assessment of performance against impact-related KPIs. Alternatively, the fund’s hurdle rate may be lowered if certain impact-related KPIs are achieved. Other variations exist (e.g. requiring a portion of forfeited carried interest to be donated to charitable causes or to be used to purchase carbon offset credits). The complexity with all such models is in ensuring that impact KPIs are meaningful, measurable and appropriate to the investment strategy (or even individual investments within a strategy). ESG performance is inherently contextual, meaning that it can be difficult to accurately measure impact and outcomes, while as yet there are no clear or defined market standards. To provide greater alignment between sponsors and investors, funds will often rely on external experts, such as impact advisers and auditors, to provide independent guidance, oversight and verification of the process. For the reasons outlined above, ESG-linked carried interests have tended to be seen more commonly in strategies which pursue or promote a specific environmental and/or social objective or outcome, but have yet to become commonplace in the wider private funds industry. First loss mechanisms Last, but not least, there is also the option to use blended finance, where more risk-averse investors are hedged by investors with a higher risk appetite. This not only widens the pool of resources available to the sponsor, but allows investors to diversify their portfolio and enter into transactions outside of their usual risk profile. In a waterfall structure, this can take the form of a first loss mechanism under which an investor with a higher risk / return profile may agree to absorb a portion of losses (if they arise) against their contributions. In exchange, that investor may receive a greater preferred return and/or a preferred return contingent on a lower hurdle rate, meaning that if the overall portfolio performs well (with any losses recovered), that investor recoups higher and/or earlier profits than the more risk‑averse investors. Conclusion In structuring any fund product, it is crucial that the fund terms provide an appropriate alignment of interests between the sponsor and the investors. The distribution waterfall goes to the very heart of the fund (i.e. its performance and returns) and the various permutations (as set out above) provide an effective means of striking a balance between the respective interests of those key stakeholders, having regard to the strategy and purpose of the fund in question. If you would like specific advice on waterfall structures, including which model might be suitable to a particular transaction, please feel free to contact the CMS Funds Group.
Focusing on Funds: An update on the Register of Overseas Entities regime
The UK’s Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Act 2022 (ECTE Act) originally implemented the Register of Overseas Entities regime in 2022 and as of 21 December 2023 has resulted in over 30,000 registrations at Companies House. In this Focusing on Funds we look at recent and upcoming changes to the Register of Overseas Entities regime made by the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act 2023 (ECCT Act) and the implications for funds and other investors owning real estate in the UK through non-UK legal entities. What is new   The ECCT Act, which forms part of the UK’s ever expanding focus on implementing and enforcing transparency and enforcement legislation relating to economic crime and transparency of ownership, has amended the ECTE Act to expand the Register of Overseas Entities regime to include the following new re­quire­ments:Over­seas entities holding property as nominees must look through to the owners of the land for its  registrable beneficial owners (previously it only looked through to the owners of the nominee). Any legal entity in the overseas entity’s beneficial ownership chain that is a trustee (whether or not a professional trustee) is disclosable as a registrable beneficial owner, together with the supporting trust information. An overseas entity must disclose its principal office (previously it was possible to disclose its registered office instead). Likewise, it must disclose the principal office, rather than the registered office, of any registrable beneficial owner that is a legal entity. Tougher information and compliance requirements including the potential loss of registered status and the ability to deal with land. Other upcoming changes There are a number of other notable changes to the Register of Overseas Entity regime that will be brought in by the ECCT Act, but the Government has not yet indicated when these will come into force. These changes include:A requirement to provide the title number of the relevant property to Companies House – though this information will not be publicly available on the Register.A requirement to disclose the registrable beneficial owner(s) of the overseas entity between the period of 28 February 2022 and 31 January 2023. Further information is set out below. Fund managers and other investors in UK real estate should consider their UK land ownership structures, alongside any upcoming acquisitions and disposals, including certain leases in progress, to understand the implications on their organisations of the Register of Overseas Entities regime, including the latest and upcoming changes. . The Register of Overseas Entities – a recap and its implications The Register of Overseas Entities (the Register) is a separate public register at Companies House for non-UK legal entities (overseas entities) that directly own or acquire qualifying UK real estate. It was established by the ECTE Act and launched on 1 August 2022. The relevant overseas entity is required to give comprehensive information about itself, its ‘registrable beneficial owner(s)’ (including, where the registrable beneficial owner is a trustee, information about the trust) and, in some circumstances, its managing officers. UK companies (and other UK entities)  have to disclose their beneficial owner on a separate register under the People with Significant Control (PSC) regime. Information contained on the Register is for the most part available to the public. Overseas entities owning UK real estate (in particular, property registered since 1 January 1999 in England and Wales and since December 2014 in Scotland), or that have made disposals of UK real estate since 28 February 2022, originally had six months since 1 August 2022 to register on the Register. Overseas entities seeking to acquire UK real estate (freeholds and grants of leases of more than seven years) need to be registered on the Register at Companies House before an acquisition can be registered at the Land Registry.  For further detail regarding the implications of the Register for UK real estate transactions, including Land Registry requirements, see our Law Now “Important deadline imminent for Economic Crime Act”. Overseas entities on the Register are required to annually confirm and, when relevant, update their information on the Register, and can apply to be removed from the Register when they cease to hold qualifying UK real estate. For more information on the updating duty, see our Law Now “Be aware of the updating requirements for overseas entities at Companies House”. There are fines and criminal penalties for non-compliance – and non-compliance will seriously impact an overseas entity’s ability to acquire, sell, let or charge UK real estate. Scotland has its own transparency regime, the Register of Persons Holding Controlled Interests in Land, that applies there in addition to the Register of Overseas Entities regime. For more information on the Scottish regime, see our Law Now “Register of Persons Holding a Controlled Interest in Land – (cms-lawnow. com)”. Overseas entity The obligation to register under the ECTE Act is on the ‘overseas entity’, which is a body corporate, partnership or other entity that (in each case) is a legal person governed by non-UK law. The overseas entity needs to provide specific information about itself, any ‘registrable beneficial owners’ (including, where the registrable beneficial owner is a trustee, information about the trust) and, in some cases, its managing officers to Companies House as part of its application to register on the Register. The information contained in the application for registration must be verified by a registered verifier. Information provided in the annual update statement must also be verified. Registrable beneficial owner(s) Overseas entities that register on the Register will need to identify their ‘registrable beneficial owner(s)’. A beneficial owner is an individual, a legal entity or a government or public authority (X), who meets any of the following conditions in relation to the overseas entity (Y):
Side Letters and MFN
In simple terms, a side letter is an agreement which documents terms that are specific to a particular investor's investment in a fund. In that respect, a side letter is distinct from the fund's principal constitutional documents, which set out the terms that apply to the fund as a whole. Side letters have become a fixed feature of most private funds as investors increasingly seek to supplement and improve the terms of their investment and address requirements specific to their position. This briefing explores common themes in relation to side letters and their negotiation, including how side letters interact with a most favoured nation (or “MFN”) mechanism. Common side letter terms Side letters originally emerged principally for the purpose of encouraging cornerstone and strategic investors to commit to a fund by granting preferential terms in exchange for early stage or large commitments. However, investors now see side letters as fundamental to the negotiation process and will often have an extensive shopping-list of requirements. The terms negotiated in a side letter will depend on various factors, such as the type of investor and the investment strategy and legal, tax and regulatory features of the fund. The table below includes examples of some common side-letter terms: We have picked out some of the side letter terms in more detail below. Fee arrangements Managers may grant special management fee and, in some cases, carried interest arrangements with respect to certain investors in order to incentivise repeat, larger and/or early stage commitments to the fund. These fee arrangements may be substantial in the case of cornerstone and strategic investors. While certain aspects of the fee arrangements may sometimes be formalised in the LPA, documenting these arrangements via the side letter provides the manager with greater flexibility to tailor arrangements between different investors in order to preserve fee revenue and avoid creating a precedent. Investment Restrictions Whilst it is not uncommon for closed-ended LPAs to contain an excusal provision - being a mechanism allowing an investor to request to be excused from participation in an investment which would contravene its own legal requirements or investment policies (for example an investment related to armaments manufacture or the production of alcohol) - side letters can offer an opportunity for investors to pre-notify the manager of these prohibitions. The manager will want to limit discretion on the part of the investor so the investor is unable to cherry pick deals. ESG Investors increasingly expect funds to have detailed ESG policies and for managers to commit to firm-level ESG commitments, including net zero carbon emissions targets and alignment with frameworks such as the UN Principles for Responsible Investment. In addition, certain investors may require the manager and the fund to comply with, and/or report in relation to, the investor’s own ESG policies, principles or regimes. Managers should be mindful of ensuring that they are practically able to adhere to and meet any obligations, especially in circumstances where the fund does not exercise control over the underlying investments. Consideration should also be given as to who bears the expense of compliance with ESG related reporting requirements, which may be costly and require input from specialist external providers. Anti-Bribery and Corruption and Sanctions In light of recent events, investors understandably want to ensure that funds into which they are investing are compliant from an anti-bribery and corruption (often referred to as “ABC”) perspective. Related side letter provisions can come in many forms, including assurances that the fund and the manager have implemented ABC and anti-money laundering policies, obligations to comply with the investor’s own ABC policies, and representations and warranties that the fund and the key persons are not the subject of ABC investigations or proceedings. The manager should consider during the negotiation process whether, by agreeing to any such provisions, it is extending its liability beyond the scope of existing ABC regimes applicable to the fund and the manager. Who are the parties to the side letter? Where a fund is structured as a limited partnership, the side letter is typically entered into between the general partner (GP) acting on behalf of the fund, and the relevant individual investor. Some investors will ask for the fund manager entity to be an additional party to the agreement, to facilitate the enforcement of any terms relating to the manager's activities. However, both managers and investors should treat this approach with caution. Managers should generally look to "ring-fence" liability for side letter obligations within the GP, which is usually a limited liability special purpose vehicle. At the same time, case law has suggested that investors in a limited partnership fund may risk prejudicing their limited liability status in taking legal action against the manager of the limited partnership under a side letter, as this could amount to "taking part in management" of the limited partnership. A sensible solution is to provide that the GP must procure the actions required of the manager under the side letter, whilst excluding the manager as a party to the side letter. AIFMD Fund managers whose activities are subject to the EU Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive (AIFMD), or the equivalent UK regime, are required to disclose details of the nature of special arrangements (including side letters) with investors, and the types of investors eligible to receive them. While the rules do not specify the level of detail in which side letter arrangements must be disclosed, managers should certainly bear this in mind when agreeing to side letter terms with investors. Most Favoured Nations (MFN) An MFN provision is a mechanism, which may be contained either in the fund’s constitution itself (in which case all investors benefit from the MFN on the same terms) or offered to one or more investor(s) within their respective side letters, which typically requires the manager (i) to disclose to relevant investors details of preferential rights granted to other investors in the fund and (ii) to offer investors the right to elect the benefit of certain of those provisions, in each case subject to certain conditions. The election process (and in certain cases the disclosure process too) is typically provided on a “tiered” basis, meaning that the relevant investor can only elect the benefit of (and, as applicable, receive disclosure of) another investor's terms if its commitment to the fund is equal to or higher than such other investor's commitment. In other words, bigger ticket investors generally have a better deal in terms of the rights on offer. Carve-outs In addition to the MFN tiering referred to above, it is common practice for certain types of side letter provisions to be excluded (or “carved-out”) from the MFN. The carve outs may apply solely to the election process, or to both the disclosure and the election process. Carve outs may include, for example, rights granted on the basis of an investor's specific legal, regulatory or tax position or its investment policies, or in consideration of an investor's status as a "first-close investor" or an existing client of the manager. The inclusion of MFN carve outs provides the manager with a means of managing the burden of the MFN process as well as controlling potential escalation in the scope and complexity of side letters across the investor pool, particularly in open-ended products. Some common carve-outs include:LPAC: Investors may be precluded from electing a provision which permits the investor to appoint a representative to the Limited Partners Advisory Committee (“LPAC”). The LPAC is formed for the purpose of consulting with the manager or general partner on specific issues during the lifetime of the fund and the right to appoint a representative to the LPAC may be reserved for larger or first close investors or those investors who the manager otherwise considers to be of strategic importance to the fund. Investor specific legal, regulatory or tax requirements: as described above, certain investors in the fund may be subject to legal, regulatory or tax requirements by reason of their specific individual circumstances. For example, a German domiciled investor may be subject to its own reporting requirements to the German regulator or tax authorities. While the German investor’s side letter may therefore contain provisions entitling it to receive certain information required to fulfil these reporting requirements, a non-German investor would typically be precluded from electing this provision. Co-investments: In certain cases, the manager may agree to grant certain strategic investors first-look rights or pro-rata participation in co-investment opportunities alongside the fund. However, most managers will typically prefer to retain some degree of discretion over the allocation of co-investment opportunities and such side letter rights are therefore often excluded from the scope of the MFN. Summary – Pros and Cons of Side Letters Practical Considerations It is important to remember that side letters are designed to supplement the fund’s constitutional documents and should not be used to replicate provisions of the fund’s constitutional documents. When negotiating side letter rights, managers should always bear in the mind the MFN and, as far as possible, seek to ensure consistency of side letters terms. Consistency in approach between side letters will typically help with streamlining the MFN process and also in facilitating the manager’s ongoing compliance with side letter obligations. In an open-ended fund, investors should only have the benefit to elect side letter provisions granted to other investors admitted at the same or later closings. Further, where closings on open-ended products are anticipated to occur frequently, the manager may even wish to avoid an MFN provision altogether or to restrict the scope of the MFN provisions to fees, redemptions and other essential rights, so as to avoid running a burdensome MFN election process following each closing. Managers should ensure that a record is kept of any key operational side letter obligations, such as deadlines or obligations to notify investors of specific events. An appropriate set of MFN carve outs in the fund’s constitutional documents can reduce the scope of the manager’s ongoing compliance burden. Managers should consider who will bear the costs incurred by the fund and the manager in complying with the specific investor requirements, which investors may seek to push onto the fund or the manager. The MFN process can get complex where a manager is raising successor funds. Repeat investors often expect substantially similar side-letter rights in respect of a successor platform, leading to a considerable increase in the length and complexity of their side letters with each new fund. The inclusion of an MFN provision, in either an investor’s side letter or the fund’s constitutional document, should be carefully considered by both investors and managers alike. Investors should be aware that sponsors will often require MFN elections to be submitted within a certain period following closing. Late MFN election submissions are at risk of being rejected by the manager. Managers may seek to limit their disclosure obligations in the MFN process by choosing to only disclose the general terms or a summary of other investors’ terms, without fully disclosing the specifics. Investors may wish to insist on full disclosure obligations on the part of the manager. Conclusion Side letters can vary considerably in scope and complexity, from a one-page document to an agreement which may be comparable to the fund's principal constitutional document in length. Their content ranges from the mundane, such as detailed requirements on the service of notices, to the ominous, such as clauses restricting investments in businesses involved in the development weapons of mass destruction, or in engaging with organised crime syndicates or persons conducting "indiscriminate mass murder" (some investors obviously feel that the ESG culture has yet to become fully embedded in the market!). Managers should consider side-letter provisions carefully at all times: during the investor negotiations (with a focus on ensuring that the terms are workable); following closings; during the MFN process; and on a forward basis (to ensure ongoing compliance with their terms). Please contact the authors if you would like to discuss any of the issues raised in this article.
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