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SweGov involved in discussions with Asian consortium?

March 30, 2012 in News, Rumors

Simon Warburton published an article on just-auto.com saying that SweGov shall be heavily involved in the discussions with the BAIC/Panasonic consortium. He quotes a reliable source – judge this for yourself but he is generally pretty well informed and I’d put more trust in this than I did if it was di.se.

The article states some genral facts we know and claims that BAIC/Panasonic are the third party alongside Mahindra & Mahindra and Youngman. Now to the most interesting part of the article:

“It [consortium] is a really bad thing for Saab and will be a threat for Youngman and Mahindra,” the source told just-auto from Sweden. “They are planning to build electric cars in Trollhattan using the 9-3 as a first car and producing batteries.

“Most likely they will not be branded as Saab [but] they are extremely secret about everything.”
The source added Stockholm firm Springtime was heading the public relations drive behind the Asian consortium bid, with one of the communications company’s co-owners Birgitta Ed, married to Swedish social security minister Ulf Kristersson.

“The Swedish government are heavily involved [in] this situation, it is for sure,” added the Swedish source. “Several meetings [happened] between parties from the consortium, the Japanese government and the Swedish government.

“The government likes [this] kind of environmental electric car which will never fly in the next 15 years. There is no commercial point in this right now. I would not be be surprised if they [Swedish government] put money behind it.”

While I think that electricity has a place in the concept of future mobility I don’t think it is the sole answer. It definetely is not at this point of time. Too much has to be done about infrastructure. Not only that you have to install a serious number of recharging stations, you also need a electricity grid that is designed to take the additional load once the number of electrical cars should increase significantly. As interesting as the project of a major electrical car company may be I agree to the assessment that there is no commercial point in this over a long time.

Another issue is that I personally would like to see the Saab brand survive with electrical cars alongside a portfolio of BioPower models to complete a diversified, enironmentally friendly lineup. So when it comes to the three parties mentioned my clear personal favourite is Mahindra & Mahindra. We got indications that their plans for Saab are very much in line with what we Saab fans would like Saab in Trollhättan to become in the future. They surely are able to provide adequate financing for the process of restarting and developing the brand and from what we heared they just recently strengthened their position in the process.

March is more or less over now. I don’t expect Tuesday’s press conference to give the final answer to the one and only question but we will see a decision soon. Hope you all spared a bit of patience for those last days of the process. No need to panic. Just hope for the best.

80 responses to SweGov involved in discussions with Asian consortium?

  1. I hope for Mahindra too, it feels much better than this consortium! By the way, you (SU) published an article some days ago (I got it in my RSS feed) called “Mahindra believed to be preferred bidder” but when I tried to read it I got an HTTP 404 error response. Why was it taken down? Anyhow, the coming week(s) will be very interesting!

  2. SweGov comment:
    “A spokeswoman for the enterprise ministry in Stockholm told just-auto she had no knowledge of any government involvement with a consortium bid and insisted the administration’s role was not to play a major part in the process”.
    This is a stupid comment if they are involved, BUT it just says that SHE has no knowledge….

    All manufacturers for electric cars seems to have problems.

    I hope for M&M or Tata.

  3. Swegov, you didn’t care about Saab before so get the f**k out of bringing some electric shit car to replace Saab.

    I wil not vote for you again.

    Baic/Panasonic, find somewhere else to build your toy cars. Don’t ruin Saab, let someone else buy Saab that wants Saab to be Saab.

  4. Hope that if this is true that at least the actual administrators are aware of these discussions;
    It would not be the first time the Swedish government has acted, or not acted, which resulted in big harm for Saab.

  5. BAIC might build a handful of electric cars in Trollhattan as a token gesture, and meanwhile the Phoenix platform would be spirited away to China to underpin BAIC’s next generation of cars. Certainly not good for Saab.

    • Who actually owns the IP for the Phoenix platform? I thought that VM did something clever with a Dutch entity to make sure that the Phoenix platform had to be bargained for separately from Saab?

  6. Assuming this is true, how the bankruptcy administrators relate to the government ?
    In other words, can the government be pulling all the strings behind the scenes ?

    • I would assume the administrators are strong enough to resist political pressure. Otherwise it would amount to a fairly big scandal imho.

      Politicians should never influence legal process. That’s a cornerstone of a functioning democracy.

  7. Just another spinning speculation, launched of course by the consortium, or their PR Springtime. As I said before, they were late in the process and must gain momentum. I don’t see any reason that Japanese government would invest in Swedish car factory, and helping Swedish workers getting job. Also Swedish government is in crisis right now, they were secretly involved in arms production factory developing in Saudi Arabia, resulting in defense minister’s retirement. And the whole government is shaking, the social democratic opposition is gaining momentum now. Social democrats criticized the government involvement is SAAB (better said non-involvement with reasoning that a government doesn’t own car factory), and helping Japanese-Chinese consortium with swedish tax-payers money will result in crucifying them in the public.

    So, keep calm and carry on! They might be strong candidate, but certainly not with Swedish government help!

  8. Well, perhaps it´s only about future fossil-fuel free powertrain, partly electric … ?

    • look at the price.

      The announced price in Sweden is 100000++ SEK more than I paid for my 9-5 Aero. I can drive 100000 km for that money in a car that is simply bigger and better.

      Not much of a choice.

      • But will pollute more. Sure the price is steep, but we have to start somewhere.

        • Puh-leeze!! We have “started” addressing pollution from autos decades ago. All modern cars are very clean and pollute very little. (CO2 is NOT a pollutant!)

          I don’t see how anyone can look at the emissions of today’s cars compared to, say, those from 40-50 years ago and say with a straight face that “we have to start somewhere.” Give me a break!!

          (The Trionic system in my old Saab 9000 will actually produce output from its tailpipe that is cleaner than the ambient air when driving through a polluted area. That’s good enough for me.)

          • My phrase was not complete. Should have read, «start somewhere with diesel hybrids. » Nevertheless, I’m surprised at some of the comments here on fossil fuels, even though I am not an advocate of pure EV cars, except where electricity is produced in a sustainable way. There is no one solution to curve our appetite for fossil fuels but for sure it must be done. We are now exploring in more and more sensitive areas, deeper and deeper into the oceans. Below, an example you seem to already have forgotten. Puh-leeze!!

            http://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=deepwater%20horizon%20oil%20spill&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CD4QFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fen.wikipedia.org%2Fwiki%2FDeepwater_Horizon_oil_spill&ei=lRF3T4OYFqrn0QGd8smuDQ&usg=AFQjCNHXLbu3DJVHN4dYv1szR5K0iEWLrA

            • You do realize one could answer that link with links to news stories about Tsjernobyl and Fukushima? (which can then be countered with links to articles explaining how much radioactive particles are spread thanks to all the coal we burn to produce power) Nuclear power is the only realistic alternative to fossil fuels.

              It matters little whatever we do in our quest for energy. If we cut corners, people (and nature) are going to get hurt.

              • Absolutely! I am a firm believer that we need to cut our needs for energy, wherever it comes from. TBS, passive modes of producing electricity are underutilized. When I transferred flights at the beautiful NEW airport in Barcelona, I couldn’t believe they didn’t incorporate solar panels on the enormous wing like structure facing the sun.

                «It matters little whatever we do in our quest for energy.If we cut corners, people (and nature) are going to get hurt.» I totally agree.

                • And do you see such a cut in consumption happening anytime soon?

                  My understanding is that we have seen great progress in energy-efficiency, but… Hehe… The less power the next new fridge uses, the cheaper it will become to run it and the more demand will increase. (Thus we end up using more energy)

                  To this volatile mixture you want to add vehicles powered by electricity?

                  Those solar panels — who should pay to maintain those? I very much doubt they are economically viable.

                  I am trying to do my bit by slowly convincing my employer that I can do my job from anywhere in the world (don’t need to be chained to my desk in the office). But in the mean time, I fail to see how using fuel distilled from plants (powered by the sun, soaking up CO2 as they grow, etc) is more damaging to the environment than using an EV.

                  Which was my original point: Paying 100K SEK more for a smaller car just because it is a gasoline/battery hybrid makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Especially when (as in my case) you drive a superior hybrid already.

        • It will pollute less if you take into consideration how those batteries were produced.

          In addition, the ethanol comes from biomass; Biomass that soaked up the sun’s energy and CO2 from the air to produce the fuel my car runs on. You cannot possibly get cleaner energy than that (sun+CO2)!

          As for the Saab 9000 (mentioned by JerseySaab), I posted links to a couple of videos here: http://www.saabsunited.com/2011/05/volcanic-emissions-and-handling-the-twisties.html

          BTW: Remove CO2 from the atmosphere, and the plants I use for fuel won’t be able to grow. Something is very amiss with a doomsday-prophecy based on the belief that a gas so vital to all life on this planet is somehow a major ecological threat. Our politicians have finally succeeded taxing the very air we breathe!

    • Volvo has already launched a Saab. It’s called V40. It’s slightly uglified in the Chinese way and contains some moderately disgusting and thoughtless details, but all in all, it’s a modern-day interpretation of a Saab.

    • It’s a really good advert and the car is an attractive package. The interior ambience seems very nice and the interface with the diesel hybrid technology looks slick and functional. Like the V40 and C30, I think the design is a bit fussy and could look very dated (as the 440 did very quickly) but maybe I am just being conservative (spot the irony).

      Although Volvo are currently under Chinese ownership, their products have “Made in Sweden” written all over them – and that is a compelling reason to buy one should the worst happen. My personal favourite is the XC90 (a soft spot for the boxy design and solidity). I also think the YouConcept (crap name) looks very attractive, and if it is a portent of things to come it is a car I would buy for looks alone.

      However, I am still praying that The Greatest Car Company In The World will rise from the grave in the coming weeks so that I won’t have to seriously consider a Volvo.

  9. We’ve all heard of all the bidders, their proposals, schemes, but we have not heard about the Swedish Consortium that has been mentioned numerous times in the beginning of this roller coaster process. Is it true, is there any information on them?

    If the above is approved, what toy cars are they going to base as their version of the 9-3? Will the cars come in a box, will it read batteries not included?

  10. Just heard that Buick LaCrosse will reborn as Roewe 950 by Shanghai Automobile. With the permission of GM of course. Pics here, i call your attentention on the door panels and the back of the front seats: http://totalcar.hu/magazin/hirek/2012/03/30/roewe_950_kinai_luxus_audi_helyett/
    No comment…

  11. Ugh….I agree with Simon’s article that if the BAIC/Panasonic consortium wins this…the Saab we knew in any form is gone for good.

    “Help us, Mahindra & Mahindra….you are our only hope!”

  12. This is really quite simple. It appears we are now at the point where it’s safe to say:
    Consortium = Failure, game over
    Mahindra = A real chance at a future for Saab
    So much damage has been done since December—-because of the length of this process—-I don’t know if there will ever be another “new” Saab rolling off an assembly line. With a sale to Mahindra, there is at least a chance that we’ll see the rebirth most of us want. If the electro-ninnies are awarded this factory and assets—-game over for Saab, forever. One thing we know: If this ends up going to the electric car consortium, it’s politically driven—-absolutely no doubt. Not only will “the best” economic outcome be bypassed for folley—-but in years to come, taxpayers in Sweden will likely see millions more thrown down a rathole. I’ve lived it in the U.S. I hope a horrific misake isn’t made here.

  13. For a while there was the suggestion of BMW’s interest as well. If we’re talking 3 serious players now (as listed in the post), is BMW unofficially out?

    • My thoughts also. What happened to 5 or 6 serious bidders?

      Is this latest snippet just a load of hot air? Who knows.

      The amount of misinformation that has spewed out of this process since even before the bankruptcy has been Kafkaesque. I don’t know what to believe about anything any more…

      Sigh. Anyway, I think the truth right now is that nobody actually knows what the hell is going on except the admins and the bidders, and some others vested interests all talking behind closed doors.

      So we just have to bloody well wait until they make a decision and then publicly tell us what it is.

    • It was reported here a while back that BMW is not interested in Saab. The rumor that it was turned out to be false according to spokespersons at BMW.

  14. Please, don’t turn SAAB into a golf carts’ factory :(

  15. Good comment!

  16. EVs are definitely not a viable solution right now and they’re very far away from that coming to fruition.

    I’ve made my feelings on EVs known already as the topic arose over the last week+, so there is no need to rehash that; except to say that I hate them, I hate the idea and if I was SAAB AB / Defence I would deny the rights and licenses to any company that wants to do 100% EVs effective immediately.

    Now, let’s get to the biggest issue of an EV right now/in this current time.

    Grid STRENGTH
    Grid RELIABILITY
    Grid CAPABILITY

    and lastly…as Till said…Grid CAPACITY.

    My immediate concern would be Grid Reliability. Why?

    I live in New Hampshire, USA but I am right on the border of Massachusetts & I’m so close that even in New Hampshire we are considered part of the Boston, Mass Metro North area/region.

    Despite living in such an established, industrialized , modernized and being a “Major Metro Region” like this NH/MA border town of Plaistow, NH, USA, we have an AWFUL electrical grid. If we run one portable A/C unit and more than one TV then we trip the circuits at our house. (I know that is more a building/house issue)

    So to further my point, about 1 month ago we got a mild thunderstorm. Maximum winds were recorded at 19MPH, total rain fall was 1.75 inches, there were ZERO lightning strikes to any area, part of the grid or not and no accidents, blow ups etc.

    Here is the kicker: WE LOST ELECTRICITY FOR 42 hours!! That is 3.5 days!!! For NO reason.

    It frightens me to think what would happen if I began charging an EV on this ridiculous grid we have; now imagine if there was a 20% increase in EVs in my town…

    I’d Benoit of power until December of 2031.

    • Don’t forget the issue of batteries. Today’s battery technology is just not up to the task either, even if the power grid were ready. Current batteries are too expensive, have insufficient capacity, too long a recharge time, and too short a service life.

      This electric car nonsense and the like is deja vu all over again for old farts such as myself, we went through all this 40 years ago. I have a stack of Popular Science and similar magazines here from the 1970s and it’s all there: windmills, solar panels, electric cars (with exotic new batteries just around the corner to make them practical), “we’ll be out of oil in 10 to 20 years,” alternative energy, global cooling, etc., etc.

      BTW, when I lived in NH in the 1980s I had to get a party line telephone for a while as there was not enough capacity for a private line – and this was not in the boonies but in the city of Manchester!

  17. I spent many summers up in Melvin Village/ Wolfeboro and know all too well about the crazy power grid. We had one freak storm one summer, that was like a tornado, but wasn’t said to have been one, the power was out for 3 day. That was just a storm, many times just with a/c and a computer being used the power would surge.

  18. A silly question. In this case, what consortium is actually buying from recievers? Factory is only partly for sale, do they need phoenix platform in that case? If they dont make Saabs, they dont need a Saab brand. My point, if the worst happens, (consortium wins) would there be a hole for for example Youngman buy a Saab brand, and build a new factory to Trollhattan (i guess in order to get a permit to use Saab name, care must be built in Trollhattan) and build Saabs based on phoenix platform?

  19. Even though you have a serious crush on Saab Gas/Diesel/Ethanol powered cars we have to face the fact that the fossile fuels is coming to an end. And I think we will see a paradigm shift in a very few years. 90% of all road trips is less then 50km (at least in Sweden) and very suitable for electric cars.
    Note that very few electric cars today is developed as this. Most often it’s modified gas cars not tuned and designed from the beginning as electric. Some peculiar examples, Tesla or Think, I know but they are not to be considered for ordinary Joe.
    And for the City of Trollhättan and the suppleir cluster of Sweden the starting of a Electric car industry in Saabs old plant would be a huge benefit.
    Even though I, as many others, would prefer a restart of Saab as it was. Offcourse!

    • Norway’s reserves of oil were supposed to end ten years ago according to what I was taught in school. Now we think we’ve managed to pump up maybe as much as 60%. (I don’t know if that includes the reservoirs located further north)

      Other sources exists around the world, and newer technology (combined with higher prices) makes it possible to drill even more.

      Most of us debating here, will be long gone by the time fossil fuels run out.

      As for ethanol, that is not a fossil fuel. E85 contains 15% gasoline, yes, but that is hardly a deal-breaker.

      Fot at least the next 15 years, the trade-offs with EVs (smaller, more expensive, less safe, less convenient) are going to remain pretty much as-is. The customer group is mostly gullible eco-folks who’ve bought into the CO2 propaganda hook-line-and-sinker. That business model is fragile at best.

      And… You are going to have to figure out a way to produce all that power. That means going nuclear. Preferably thorium. It makes absolutely no sense to produce EVs before there is available power to charge the vehicles. An EV powered by a coal-burning power plant is less friendly towards the environment than my E85 powered 9-5.

      EVs would be an excellent product on the sidelines for Saab (in addition to their existing lineup). To go exclusively EV is madness.

      • Norways oil production peaked in 2000 and have been dropping fast since then. New technology have not managed to stop this development, not in Norway and not anywhere else I’m aware of. The worlds production of conventional oil reached its peak in 2006, and a larger portion of the oil is used by the exporting nations making less oil availible for export. Unconventional oil is more difficult and expensive to produce, oil shales can for instance require the use of one barrel of oil to produce 1.5 barrels of oil, that’s far from the one barrel of oil for ten barrels of oil the current conventional oil production manage. In reality it doesn’t really matter how many years worth of oil you’ve got unless you can actually produce it in quantities that matches the demand.

        Ethanol can’t be produced in any significant quantity to replace oil. The production of ethanol is also dependant on the use of fossils fuels although not only oil.

        Electricity is roughly two thirds fossil, but fossil fuels are also used to produce non fossil energy like hydro, wind and nuclear. Even with electric cars we’re still very dependant on fossil fuels.

        The costs and limitations of batteries will likely prevent electric vehicles from taking any significant market share the coming decade. The most significant reductions in oil use will instead come from more efficient combustion engines and more energy efficient cars. If we for instance can reduce the fuel consumption in all new cars by half, this will do much more for the environment than a few electric cars.

        • They found new reservoirs off the coast of Norway as recently as last year. Further north there is probably more…

          Ethanol doesn’t have to replace fossil fuels. I see it as one of many alternatives that will help while we figure out where to go next. (there is certainly room for more E85-users around these parts)

          • I suppose you mean Avaldsnes! The problem is that Avaldsnes won’t really change anything. In 2000 norweigian oil production peaked at slightly less than 3.5 million barrels a day. In 2011 the production had dropped to about 2 million barrels a day, a drop of more than 1 million barrels a day in ten years. So how much could Avaldsnes produce? Optimists say 500 000 barrels a day, but based on the production of similar fields 250 000 barrels a day seems more likely. This means that even if Norways other oil fields stopped dropping, the production with Avaldsnes would not be more than 2.25-2.5 million barrels a day.

            Now for the really bad news. Norway found more oil than any other nation in the world during 2011. While this might sound as good news for Norway, it means that everyone else found even less oil than Norway. In a year, new oil discoveries only account for about a third to half of the annual oil consumption.

            As for ethanol, there really isn’t any need for E85. If most of the gasoline sold contained 10% ethanol, that would consume far more ethanol than can be produced today.

            • And what all this translates to is significant price increases loooong before we eventually run out of oil.

              The only way to stop increase this is reduce the oil consumption. Significantly. Now.

              This can only be done by increased electric power production via alternative energy (counting thing like Thorium among those). This electric energy could be used for house heating, for certain industrial processes, for chemical conversion processes producing fuels (bio ethanol being among them for now), etc.

              • Running out of oil isn’t the problem. The supply must meet the demand, when you can’t increase the supply, you’re forced to decrease the demand and that will have consequences.

                I would also like to add that heating houses with electricity is a really inefficient and thus wasteful use of energy. To produce one unit of electricity, normally around 3 units of primary energy is required (electricity has a high energy quality). So when you heat your house with electricity, you use one unit to heat your house and waste the other two units of energy. Using electricity to power a heat pump is better, but it’s still not the best option. The best option is of course to build a house that needs no heating at all more than passive sun, and heat from the people and equipment used in the house. But since it takes long to replace all houses this will not happen anytime soon. So the next best option is to heat the houses with industrial waste heat or combined heat and power, which is also useful for tap water heating. Such a centralized heating system is only suitable for populated areas though. Gasification and pyrolysis, the technologies that offer the highest biomass (coal or natural gas) to liquids conversion ratio also produce significant amounts of waste heat that can be used. It is also possible to heat tap water with the heat removed from the incoming air by the air condition system.

    • Propoganda. The U.S. oil reserves, oil shale, natural gas—-we’re filled. Other areas of the world also have massive oil reserves. If you want to argue that fossil fuels aren’t good for the environment, be my guest. But stop with the “sky is falling, we’re running out” scenario, which is proven to be false. Let’s keep our internal cumbustion engines please.

  20. Given the disaster that the Swedish Government helped along in Trollhättan, they will probably back whatever bid provides the most employment quickly, If BAIC/Panasonic can be up and running well before Mahindra,Youngman or ???, it would not be a surprise to have the Government line up behind that consortium. Over time, it might be better for the SAAB employees if a manufacturer of traditional cars takes over the SAAB facilities, but the Swedish Government hasn’t displayed much of an instinct for looking into the future based on what has happened so far.

    • You must be joking! Electric car manufacturing to ensure most employment quickly? With the current sales of electric cars, they would need maybe 100 people in production lines. I think the sub-contractors will accept this consortium only if they have to. every other plan is better, from the employment view. Even the Youngman “Lotus” plan will provide more jobs then this.
      Truth is that the consortium is most probably not interested to buy the whole thing. It is expensive for them and they don’t need the whole production facility. They are lobbying around, based on the “green environmental” arguments. So, I think Mahindra is still No. 1.
      Plus, don’t forget that SAAB is in Sweden and Sweden is still democratic country. We have seen many conspiratorial stories flying around, but still I don’t think that the government will instruct the administrators on to make any choice. And what do you mean by “backing”? Money from Swedish taxpayers to a Chinese/Japanese company? Forget it. Especially with the current crisis the government is in.
      The government has been talking to anyone that has shown interest in SAAB and asked for a meeting. Please, don’t find any conspiracy in the fact that the government had a meeting with someone!

      • I didn’t say that the consortium would provide the most employment quickly, only that if it did the Government would have a reason to back it. Perhaps the manufacture of traditional vehiles can be ramped up quickly, if they have something to produce.

        The initial post suggested Swedish money might be involved, but my reference to “backing” was refererring to the government being a proponent for a plan not financial backing.

        In any case, I was not promoting EV’s, but simply noting that the employment situation might influence the Government’s attitude toward different bidders.

  21. A full electric car is not a solid plan/play agreed. Fisker/Karma’a are being sold for about $110,000 USD and are from Europe..so far the dealer has had nothing but complaints about the batteries in the cars. The do look amazing/concept car reality , price not so much for most of us…http://www.fiskerautomotive.com/en-us/karma/overviewhttp://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.roadandtrack.com/var/ezflow_site/storage_RT_NEW/storage/images/media/images/ampersand_2013-saab-9-3_lead22/2161603-1-eng-US/ampersand_2013-saab-9-3_lead2.jpg&imgrefurl=http://w

    The dealer sells Jaguars, Aston Martins, Lotus, Fisker-Karmas, used to have SAABs many years ago… I think the Phoenix Car had it been built for around $75,000. would have sold against the Jaguars AX series in the $90,000++ and an Audi R8 well above $100,000. So cash strapped SAAB had good intentions just not the cash …

    Reality my once was new styled SAAB 9-5 2011 design is well now dated….so a new buyer needs to launch the new 9-3 not the refreshed 9-3 to make it ….http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.roadandtrack.com/var/ezflow_site/storage_RT_NEW/storage/images/media/images/ampersand_2013-saab-9-3_lead22/2161603-1-eng-US/ampersand_2013-saab-9-3_lead2.jpg&imgrefurl=http://w

  22. In todays article in TTELA Paul Åkerlund (PÅ) is being interviewed by Valdemar Lönnroth (VL).
    And when the topic about Trollhättan as a city to live and work in is being disscused, Åkerlund quickly points out:

    PÅ -lets see whats happen. I mean, what happen if Saab within 5 years have 5-6000 employees ?

    VL-You think that can happen ?

    PÅ-I think there will be plenty for you to write about in the future…

    • Just read this myself, and to be honest it´s hard to misinterpret.
      I definately love the last sentance “I think there will be plenty for you to write about in the future…”

      But how much of correct information Paul has from the current situation is hard to say, BUT IF he´s “in” the info-stream with the administrators and possible bidders, then this comment made my day.

      SAAB UP!!

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