Keeping Chicago Competitive: The Hotel Supply Wave

4 min read

A Wave of Supply

Chicago’s hotel market is preparing for a supply wave. In the next few years, the Windy City expects to add an additional 12,000 to 13,000 new hotel rooms to its arsenal. To many, this isn’t shocking news. Hotel developers and operators in Chicago have enjoyed a steady climb in RevPAR since 2009. However, in 2016, we saw Chicago’s first decline in RevPAR in 6 years, a sign which some say is reason to worry about the incoming hotel room supply.

Market consultants and policymakers point to a potential oversupply problem as the source of their worries.  Under basic supply-and-demand principles, these critics essentially say that if there are too many hotel rooms in a market, then the price of each hotel room in that market will, on average, decrease.  There will be more hotel rooms than Chicago needs to accommodate its visitors and with more hotel rooms than hotel guests, the argument is that each hotel will get a smaller piece of the pie. We believe that these claims are blown out of proportion and fail to acknowledge any of the upside. While the argument is fairly simple and logical, the critics are erroneously oversimplifying the market and overlooking the micro and macroeconomic consequences. Our business team at EquityRoots wants to make sure investors and hotel owners are not oversimplifying Chicago’s market and then making assumptions on those generalities.

A robust supply of hotels are critical in establishing continued economic growth in Chicago.

Other regions in the United States outside of Chicagoland (San Antonio, New York, and Seattle, to name a few) have similarly seen the development of new hotels in their respective markets. These brand new hotels attract additional business and travel, and keep their cities competitive in the hospitality market. Cities that fail to upkeep their hotel inventory can lose out on significant business opportunities and city revenue. This includes Chicago, which stands to lose much ground to other established and on-the-rise metropolitan areas. If Chicago wants to remain a world-class city that is capable of handling large conventions and attracting major corporations to set up shop, it needs to keep things fresh with updated hotel products.

The Chicken, or the Egg?

If you’ve been watching Netflix recently, you might have stumbled upon “The Founder,” which takes a look at the entrepreneur Ray Kroc and his role in making McDonald’s a worldwide brand. For Ray Kroc, business growth is a supply and demand issue. Which comes first, the chicken or the egg? Ray Kroc believed that new supply attracts new demand, building the McDonald’s restaurant empire on this theory.  

Likewise, EquityRoots.com believes that the threat of oversupply is overhyped, particularly for the newest hotels to enter Chicago’s market. While it is true that there will be more hotel rooms available in Chicago from a sheer numbers standpoint, the newest constructed hotels will drive others to improve. Newer hotels that are slated to open in Chicago – including a Cambria hotel in Chicago’s Loop and a dual-brand IHG hotels in Schaumburg – introduce updated and upscale venues with cutting-edge floorplans that appeal to old and new visitors to the city. Modern additions including rooftop venues, new technology, and newer beds are likely to attract the majority of incoming travelers, and this is a standard that corporate travelers have come to expect in other markets across the country. This means that the pressure falls to older hotels to reinvest and renovate, especially those that are 20 years old or more. For example, developers are already spending about $20 million to renovate the Talbott Hotel in the Gold Coast in order to keep the asset competitive. Other older Chicago hotels are also expected to renovate and update their rooms and designs to avoid the risk of becoming outdated. Chicago’s hotel room supply will continue to be updated.  Increased expenditure and capital improvements will ultimately raise an owner’s basis, driving rental rates higher to obtain the same return.  As a result, the entire market responds by increasing average daily rates.  The supply of total rooms will go up, but so will quality.  This gives all hotels the edge in competing for corporate and leisure travelers. As a whole, competition will drive up the quality of hotel services and products offered in Chicago, which lead to positive experiences and can encourage even more travelers to visit the Windy City and drive demand.

Moving forward, Chicago is expecting more travelers, which is great news since the number of conventions and meetings held last year in 2016 was atypically low for the Windy City. When you couple that with high-publicity events like the Chicago Cubs’ World Series win last year, EquityRoots.com expects that the future still remains bright for Chicago’s hotels.

 

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So, what caused the 2016 decline?

If it wasn’t primarily oversupply that pushed Chicago’s downward RevPAR dip in 2016, what was the source? Chicago is facing microeconomic issues.  For starters, the city’s current lodging supply is outdated compared to other cities.  It’s also worth noting that Chicago was in the running as a host city for the 2016 Summer Olympics. During the bidding process, corporate travelers shied away from booking in Chicago because the Olympics typically creates a lot of traffic, congestion, and delay in the way of a busy work/meeting schedule.  A number of conventions and businesses avoided booking travel to Chicago during the time frame that the 2016 Olympics would be occurring, opting to hold their conferences and meetings in other cities like Detroit, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, or Minneapolis.  When Chicago wasn’t awarded the 2016 Summer Olympics bid (which went to Rio de Janeiro), the city got a 1-2 punch. The city not only missed out on the opportunity to capitalize on a huge wave of tourism for the games, but also was hurt by the void of typical corporate travel avoiding the market. As 2017 and future years pose more typical operational years, we believe the hotel industry will continue to improve in Chicago.

Chicago needs to stay competitive to keep up with other leading primary markets in the United States, including New York and San Francisco.

Staying Competitive

Freezing free market activity and slowing down updated prototypes will push Chicago laps behind in a race against other cities. America and capitalism thrived on encouraging innovation and progress.  If Chicago were to halt new development for fear of oversupply, it will have comparatively lower quality lodging than other cities, which will make it more difficult to attract travelers and other demand drivers to come here in the first place. We are seeing incredible market strength in cities like Seattle, NYC, and Boston – cities that happen to offer the latest and greatest hotels and amenities.  Chicagoland needs to put pressure on the status quo, create pressure to improve, and bring in the latest and greatest facilities so that we can attract more businesses and travelers to come here.

Sources

Gallun, Alby. “Hotel market falters after six-year run.” Crain’s Chicago Business. Sept 26, 2017. 

Gallun, Alby. “Will the downtown hotel market bounce back in 2017?” Crain’s Chicago Business. Jan 30, 2017. 

Hoisington, Alicia. “Oversupply concerns loom over Chicago.” Hotel Management. Mar 6, 2017. 

Ori, Ryan. “Talbott Hotel to shut down for $20 million renovation.” Crain’s Chicago Business. Dec 8, 2016. 

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Raising Money: Title IV Regulation A+

Title IV Regulation A+

For as long as I can remember, equity investing was something exclusively reserved for wealthy individuals. That’s because investing in high growth companies and startups used to be only possible for accredited investors, or someone that is wealthy. An accredited investor is defined as someone earning $200,000+ for two consecutive years or whose personal net worth is $1 million (excluding their primary residence). This doesn’t help anyone that has their home paid off or has a majority of their equity paid into their home.  However, in 2012, the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS Act) was passed to slowly democratize the investment marketplace.

This motion had 10 provisions, but Title IV or Regulation A+ is probably the most dynamic because it finally lifted the restriction of allowing only accredited investors to invest in deals. In other words, now anyone can invest in a company which is planning to conduct a “mini-ipo”, despite their income or assets.

What is Regulation A+?

Regulation A+ is closely analogized to a mini-IPO allowing companies and startups to utilize crowdfunding platforms to raise up to $50 million USD through accredited and/or non-accredited investors.  You don’t have to be super rich in order to invest anymore.  This means local customers potentially turning into investors, and brand loyal hotel guest turning into brand loyal investors.  Reg A also enables localized and community based investments because almost everyone can participate in the deal. Not only are localized investments positive drivers for community economic development, but there’s definitely a strong sense of progress with securities laws allowing everyone to invest in Main Street as opposed to Wall Street.

How does it Work?

Title IV is made up of two tiers; tier 1 and tier 2. Under tier 1, companies can raise up to $20 million, whereas in tier 2, companies can raise as much as $50 million. Companies interested in raising capital in this manner need to apply for a Regulation A+ exemption; here’s how it works:

Tier 1: In this tier, anyone from anywhere across the globe can invest in a startup or business. For investors in this tier, there is no restriction on the amount which might be invested. Whether they are accredited or non-accredited investors, all of them are permitted to invest in a business which has been granted the Regulation A+ tier 1 exemption. These companies can also advertise their investable presence freely.  However, if a company wants to raise capital under the tier 1 structure, they have to furnish a disclosure document and receive SEC’s qualification. Then they need to get their financials reviewed and pass the Blue Sky laws in every state.

Tier 2: Similar to tier 1, everybody is allowed to invest from anywhere in the world as long as the startup or growth company has been approved for Title IV Regulation A+ tier 2 offerings. Companies have the freedom to advertise publicly. However, unlike tier 1, non-accredited investors can only invest an amount equal to 10% of their annual income or net worth[1], whichever is greater, capped at $100,000, per offering.

For example, if a non-accredited investor is making $100,000 annually, they can invest a sum of $10,000. If a person has a net worth of $400,000, they are able to invest $40,000.  Companies can acquire tier 2 after receiving SEC’s approval, getting their financials audited, and providing disclosure documentation in the form of current, annual, and semi-annual reports.  Something worth noting in the tier 2 structure, is that issuers bypass each State’s Blue Sky laws.

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Benefits

There are 3 major benefits with Regulation A+. They are:

  • Everyone Can Invest: Title IV enables everyone to invest in a startup as long as it has been qualified by the SEC. Whether you are an accredited investor or a non-accredited one, you are more than welcome to make an investment.
  • Testing the Waters: Growth companies and startups have the provision of determining the interest of potential investors by providing them an initial offering. Hence, they can then come to decision of whether or not they want to proceed with a Title IV offering.
  • No More Blue Sky Law Filings: Regulation A+ (Tier 2) enables issuers to bypass the state laws pertaining to the sale of securities to potential investors. Although issuers under tier 1 have to still comply with the Blue Sky Laws, the filing time has been decreased and the costs have been reduced.

Hotel Investments / Crowdfunding with Regulation A+

  • EquityRoots.com is a hotel crowdfunding company considering the launch of a Regulation A+ hotel fund.
  • The hotel investment firm plans to create a $50 million fund to be leveraged with debt and deployed into new development assets licensed with IHG, Hilton, and Marriott.
  • Time to time, funds may also be used to opportunistically acquire existing assets.
  • Equityroots.com is a website owned and operated by Equityroots, Inc. a Delaware Corporation. For more information, please visit www.EquityRoots.com

 

 

 

 

Sources

https://blog.crowdfunder.com/crowdfunding-faqs/what-is-title-iv-regulation-a/

http://www.manhattanstreetcapital.com/faq/general/summarize-title-iv-regulation-for-me

http://crowdfundbeat.com/2015/03/23/facts-on-jobs-act-title-iv-regulation-a/

http://mjinews.com/3-critical-benefits-of-regulation-a-for-potential-issuers/

 

 

 

[1] The maximum investment threshold is reduced to 5% for individuals w/ less than $100,000 income or net worth.

 

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EB-5 Visa Program— A New Way to Improve the Economy

1 min read

EB-5 Visa Program— A New Way to Improve the Economy

Since 1990, the EB-5 investor program has gradually increased in popularity in the United States over the years. Initially, not that many people—including prospective foreign investors from China, India and Africa—knew about this glorious opportunity to become a legal citizen of the United States. That is not the case anymore, especially during the last (5) years. The demand for EB-5 visas seems to have reached new heights considering the huge spike in new hotel and real estate developments and crowdfunding platforms operating in the United States. In addition, a lot more real estate developers and issuers have been actively pursuing foreign investors overseas by flying out to promote their project proposals in person. As a result, there has been an increase in applications for EB-5 visas— which led to a cap of 10,000 applications being set in the United States.

What is an EB-5 visa?

The EB-5 visa program is a process that allows foreign immigrant investors to become permanent legal residents of the United States by performing and satisfying certain conditions. If these conditions are satisfied, that particular immigrant investor will receive a visa (equivalent to a green card) that will allow them to live in the U.S. To be eligible for an EB-5 visa, the immigrant investor must invest at the minimum $500,000 in a Targeted Employment Area (high unemployment or rural area) or $1 million in a new commercial entity that produces a for-profit business.

Furthermore, through this investment, there are more conditions that need special attention from prospective foreign investors. First, foreign investors should be aware that they must be able to demonstrate that their investment created or preserved at least 10 full-time jobs for qualified employees within the United States. Secondly, if foreign investors can provide proof that 10 full-time jobs were created within two years, the investor and his family (spouse and children under the age of 21) will be eligible to have the temporary restrictions removed from their status and to become permanent residents of the United States.

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What’s so special about the EB-5 visa?

In addition to being a proven foreign investment program, the EB-5 visa program has the potential to inject some life into the United States economy as well. For starters, the money associated with the million dollar investment will contribute to the funding of new business entities in the U.S. In addition, these respective foreign investors will own a share in that particular project or company they choose to invest in. And lastly, there will be an influx of jobs into the U.S. economy— thus allowing for the unemployment rate to decrease and for the Americans to sustain their quality of living.

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In the Hotel Industry, Brands Matter. Here’s Why!

3 min read

In the Hotel Industry, Brands Matter. Here’s Why!

Imagine the following scenario. You’ve been asked to travel out of town for a professional conference. The conference is being held in a convention center, and nearby there is a trio of nice, high-quality hotels—a Hyatt, a Marriott, and a Hilton. Your boss asks you which one you’d rather stay at; the choice, she says, is totally up to you.

If you’ve never traveled much before, you may express little preference. But assuming that you’re a seasoned vacationer, or that your work sends you to a lot of far-flung destinations, you probably know exactly which of these three hotels you want to be put up in. They may all be equal in their amenities, in their quality, even in their proximity to the convention center—but you have your brand, and you’re loyal to it.

Hotel Guests are Loyal to Their Brands

Such brand loyalty is by no means uncommon among tourists and travelers—the people who make up the hotel industry’s basic client base. Many regular travelers have brands that they stick to whenever they can, whether traveling within the country or even internationally. Hilton people tend to remain Hilton people; Hyatt people pick Hyatt hotels whenever they have a chance. And so on. In fact, many regular travelers would prove all too willing to drive an extra couple of miles to their convention center just to get the hotel of their choice.

A big part of this is consistency. People take comfort in knowing that all Hyatts are essentially the same, in much the same way that a Big Mac tastes the same at any McDonald’s in the country. Not only is there a basic level of quality that’s always going to be met, but you know whether or not there’s going to be free Wi-Fi; whether or not there will be a breakfast service; you even know what kinds of bedding to expect. For people who travel frequently, these little comforts are no small thing. They ensure an experience that is dependably posh and surprise-free.

What’s more, hotel owners actively foster this level of brand commitment. These days, most major hotel chains offer customer loyalty rewards, meaning discount points for those who consistently pick the same hotel brand. So not only do regular guests get a consistent and surprise-free experience, but the hotel chain actively makes it worth their while.

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Brands Matter for Investors, Too

All of this underscores an important point for the investor—that while no real estate investment can ever be fully guaranteed, a hotel that’s well-managed, situated in a vibrant market, and affixed to a recognizable brand certainly comes with some advantages, and a greater chance of success.

Just take Marriott as an example: This is a company that has done so much to ensure a consistent guest experience, and has built such an effective loyalty program, that investing in a new Marriott hotel is effectively investing in a business with a ready-made, built-in market.

All of this goes to show that, when considering a hotel investment, brand matters. And that’s one of the things that allows EquityRoots to stand out. We understand the role that brand plays in consumer behavior, and we can provide access to some of the best hotel brands in the world. This includes even the Big Three-Hilton, Marriot, and IHG—which are only attainable to the most seasoned and successful of hoteliers. (Even those with plenty of money and a few years of hotel experience are by no guaranteed a place at the Big Four table.)

Hotel guests don’t ignore brand affiliations—and hotel investors shouldn’t, either. Contact us today to learn more.

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Intrastate Crowdfunding, a Game-Changer?

Intrastate Crowdfunding, a Game-Changer?

The state of Illinois recently proposed a bill for intrastate crowdfunding. The intrastate crowdfunding law proposes the ability for unaccredited investors to participate in offerings that have a physical presence in the same jurisdiction where all investors are domiciled. For example, the intrastate crowdfunding law would allow all non-accredited investors that live or reside in Illinois to invest into a hotel crowdfunding project that is also located in Illinois.

So what’s the catch? All investors must be from Illinois. Not a single investor can reside out of state. Albeit, limitations in place— intrastate crowdfunding might be a solution for non-accredited investors that are often denied from investing into businesses. Despite being financially savvy and stable, many non-accredited investors are often prevented from investing under 506(c) public offerings. Many States are tired of waiting on the Federal Government and the SEC to finalize rules that would allow more unaccredited investors to participate, hence States have independently taken action into their own hands with State sponsored legislation.

House Bill 3429, regarding intrastate crowdfunding, in Illinois was well received by local business owners and entrepreneurs. The bill balances the needs of investors with the needs of businesses looking to raise capital. If and when the intrastate crowdfunding law becomes effective, EquityRoots.com will be on the verge of being able to allow non-accredited investors to participate in intrastate offerings. Equity crowdfunding could possibly be a workable source of capital and game-changer for Illinois small businesses and entrepreneurs. Check out the article published at crowdfundinsider.com for more information on the proposed bills regarding intrastate crowdfunding.

 

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Recent Hotel Construction Spike

Equityroots, Equityroots Inc., Blog, Recent Hotel Construction Spike

Building new-construction real estate has traditionally been viewed as a risky endeavor. Lenders reflect this opinion with higher equity thresholds and more expensive interest rates. However, the recent trend in new commercial development gives us the evidence to rebut this opinion. There are investors and developers who strongly believe the rewards of developing new-construction hotels right now outweigh the risks.

Our legal and land-use experts have studied the real estate market and believe that new-construction hotel assets are the safest bets right now. Newer hotels often boast the latest designs and modern layouts which enhance guest experience. Not only do major hotel brands prefer to see their latest designs, they often protect it— offering area of protection and financial incentives to develop their latest prototype. Don’t forget to consider substantial cost savings in maintenance expenses and energy cost when you have a new-construction hotel asset.

New-construction hotels offer amenities that older hotel designs just can’t match. With the recession over and a strengthening economy ahead of us, business travelers are back in full force and traveling often. It is important to remember that corporate travelers are not price conscious first clients, meaning they don’t have a strict budget for overnight accommodations. Corporations don’t mind spending $15-20 more to keep their employees comfortable in a newer hotel.

New-construction hotels often become high priority targets for institutional investors like REITs and funds. Institutional investors demand the highest quality properties for long-term core holdings. Investing into real-estate that is also appealing for REITs often translates into a very handsome premium at time of disposition.

 

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Schaumburg, IL Hotel Hosts Important NFL Meetings

Equityroots, Equityroots Inc., Schaumburg, IL Hotel Hosts Important NFL Meetings

Over the last three decades, the National Football league (NFL) has graced the hearts of sports fanatics across the world and has become entrenched in the homes of almost every American as evidenced by the Sunday afternoons and evenings when most Americans are glued to their TV’s.

It really is remarkable how the NFL has not just become a weekly television event but also a global brand. Everywhere we go—including outside of the U.S., there seems to be a kid or an adult wearing a sports jersey or a hat of their favorite player or football team. This speaks volumes about how the NFL has managed to expand its influence to all parts of the world in such a quick and efficient fashion. It’s neither a coincidence nor a surprise that football is starting to be considered “America’s pastime” rather than baseball nowadays.

Currently, the NFL doesn’t just market live football games on TV, but they also promote other events such as training-camps for each professional football team, the Super Bowl, and the NFL Draft. The TV ratings for each of these events are usually mind boggling—meaning they are probably going to be the most watched program of the day it’s aired. In addition, the cities, where these events are hosted, will reap the benefits because of the amount of commerce and business that will take place during the respective event. That is why cities from all over the U.S. will do “whatever is takes” to be awarded the host city of these NFL sponsored events, in particular the Super Bowl. This is no different for the NFL Draft.

During the week of August 10 to August 14, the NFL owners stayed at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Schaumburg, IL to discuss the potential expansion of a few franchise teams, and the location of the 2015-2016 NFL Draft. The city of Chicago was the “center of attention” for the NFL community.

Schaumburg is the center of commerce for the Chicago land area. The city’s ability to offer abundant hotel conference and hotel meeting room space, paired with a fresh supply of premium branded hotel rooms is the reason why global corporations consistently pick Schaumburg to host their events and meetings. Additionally the city’s diverse accessibility to expressways and O’Hare International Airport is why businesses choose to stay in Schaumburg hotels.

From the city of Chicago’s perspective, city officials view the Draft as a major demand driver—thus providing a major boost to the local economy. For example, there will probably be a spike in the hotel occupancy and retail businesses as evidenced by the hotels filling up their rooms and clothing stores selling out their jerseys or hats.

With the global appeal and influence of the NFL brand, this will be a glorious opportunity for the City of Chicago. On Tuesday the NFL announced that Chicago would indeed be the host of the 2016 NFL Draft once again.

 

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The Truth Behind Crowdfunding

Equityroots, Equityroots Inc., Blog, The Truth Behind Crowdfunding

What is Crowdfunding?

Just recently, it seems like there has been vibrant excitement surrounding the concept of “crowdfunding” in the real estate market. Crowdfunding is on its way to upset the status quo in real estate finance, allowing savvy investors of all sizes to pool capital and participate in the investment marketplace alongside institutional investors. Crowdfunding is considered to be an advantageous, innovative, and cutting-edge practice amongst real estate professionals. However, crowdfunding has yet to stamp its footprint in mainstream America, or for that matter towards the crème de la crème of the real estate community.

Crowdfunding is the window into democratizing the investment marketplace, allowing everyday-people a chance to invest into larger assets that are thriving like franchised hotels and resorts. Let’s face it, middle class America doesn’t have a $2-3 million equity check to write. Should they be denied from earning the same returns that wealthy individuals earn in highly rewarding real estate assets? What if smaller investors were allowed to put their beans into a deal right next to the big guys and take a fractional interest in the project?

Crowdfunding aims to level the playing field, allowing people to invest that would otherwise not be able to. Critics still question whether both, the real estate market and crowdfunding market, can create a new and prosperous path for investors, both domestically and internationally, by leveraging profits from U.S. real estate investments. Well, the truth is “crowdfunding” has answered all the uncertainties and silenced the critics. Crowdfunding takes advantage of and continues to make use of the accessibility of the Internet, and the vast networks that stay connected through the technology medium. With tools like social media, it’s quite easy to discuss a new business plan while simultaneously building support and attracting investors.

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Where Does the Law Stand on Crowdfunding?

The Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act of 2012 remains the catalyst for allowing “crowdfunding” to prosper via the Internet. Absent this recent legislation, there was neither the ability to promote nor the ability to solicit investors to make investments for real estate assets. Specifically, Regulation D, Rule 506 placed heavy restrictions on fundraising efforts—namely preventing third parties from advertising private investment opportunities. However, an exemption to securities registration, Rule 506(c) allows real estate developers to raise money and to advertise private investment opportunities to accredited investors (those with a net-worth of at least $1 million USD) under certain circumstances. As a result, the JOBS Act (a.k.a. Title II) gave crowdfunding platforms access to large pools of potential investors via the Internet. Today investors have direct access to a private selection of real estate offerings, where they can browse deals and make informed decisions from the comfort of their living room.

What is the Potential of Crowdfunding?

Even though “crowdfunding” has been around for a couple years, it has just scratched the surface in terms of reaching its full potential. Currently, crowdfunding platforms tend to target mostly wealthy accredited investors. However, there is endless potential to increase entrepreneurship by expanding the pool of investors beyond the traditional circle of owners and venture capitalists with newer legislation like Regulation A+ in place. Ideally, there should be a platform where all private offerings are open to the general public, including non-accredited investors.

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