Items filtered by date: Saturday, 14 October 2017
Saturday, 14 October 2017 06:41

Malawi’s FMB completes Barclays takeover

Malawi-based First Merchant Bank ( FMB) has received regulatory approvals to acquire an effective 42,7 percent shareholding in Barclays Bank Zimbabwe, completing its takeover of the bank.

FMB holds considerable stakes in several banks in the Southern Africa . It holds a 70 percent stake in Capital Bank S.A , a licensed commercial bank in Mozambique and a 38,6 percent shareholding in Capital Bank incorporated in Botswana. It also has a 49 percent stake in First Capital Bank, of Zambia.

In March Barclays Plc announced its decision to sell off its 62,3 percent stake in Barclays Africa Group to focus more on its transatlantic operations with a deal to sell off the Zimbabwean unit to FMB Malawi being announced in May. The deal has faced stiff resistance from Barclays Bank Zimbabwe management and a local ownership lobby group.

In a statement on Friday Barclays Bank Zimbabwe said the transaction had been completed following fulfilment of all statutory and regulatory requirements.

“FMB Capital Holdings Plc (FMBCH) and Barclays Bank Zimbabwe (BBZ) have announced

the successful acquisition of a majority shareholding (81 percent) in Afcarme Zimbabwe Holdings (Pvt) Limited, the holding company for Barclays Bank of Zimbabwe Limited (BBZ) from Barclays Bank PLC (BBPLC),” reads the statement .

The bank will continue to operate under the Barclays brand with the FMBCH brand being introduced over a subsequent two year period.

Barclays Plc will maintain 19 percent shareholding in Afcarme for a period of up to three years. Prior to the transaction Afcarme donated a 15 percent stake in the Barclays Bank Zimbabwe to the bank’s employees through a newly established One Thousand Nine Hundred and Twelve (1912) Employee Share Ownership Trust (“1912”ESOT).

Other major shareholders of BBZ are Old Mutual and SCB nominees which hold 5,11 percent and 4,52 percent respectively.

 

Published in Bank & Finance

Listed beverages manufacturer Delta Corporation, (Delta), says it is set to acquire a controlling stake in Lusaka Stock Exchange-listed sorghum beer company, National Breweries Plc (NatBrew), from its parent firm, Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV (AB InBev). 

Company secretary Alex Makamure said while the acquisition was still subject to regulatory approvals, the board was optimistic of prospects.

“The entity is being acquired from Heinrich’s Syndicate, a subsidiary of AB InBev…,” he said.

NatBrew is a leading sorghum beer producer in Zambia whose products are marketed under the Chibuku brand.

“The impact of this transaction is currently being determined but is not material for Delta,” Makamure said.

Delta, an associate of Belgian brewer AB InBev, reported that it’s sorghum beer volumes for the quarter to September had gone down three percent on the back of Zimbabwe’s cash shortages.

Delta’s revenue for the second quarter was up one percent on prior comparable period.

 

- The Source

Published in Business

After 38 years as president of Angola, Jose Eduardo dos Santos left the nation’s highest office Tuesday, but not without making sure he and his family continue to maintain control.

Following an election last month, former Defense Minister Joao Lourenco was sworn in to office, but only after Dos Santos passed decrees shoring up his power and leaving doubts about how much room the new president will have to maneuver.

There was the special constitutional title Dos Santos created for himself: “President of the Republic Emeritus Honorary,” which gives him and close family members immunity from prosecution. There was the decree he signed freezing appointments of military, security and intelligence chiefs until 2025, ensuring his close circle of securocrat allies retains control. He also promoted 165 senior police commanders.

Not least was the fact that he remains head of the ruling Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola, or MPLA, retaining the power to control the direction of the government.

Lourenco has said Dos Santos will not wield power behind the scenes.

Under Dos Santos, 75, oil-rich Angola has become known as a kleptocracy where for decades he used his sweeping power to enrich his family and members of a tiny elite, while the country remains one of the least developed in the world. Billions of dollars in oil revenue have gone missing without explanation, according to Human Rights Watch.

Angola’s ruling party “has historically mismanaged the country's substantial oil revenues and used its control over oil wealth to insulate itself from public scrutiny,” according to the rights group. “The scale of corruption and mismanagement in Angola has been immense.”

The nation is ranked as one of the most corrupt, at No. 163 out of 167 countries on the corruption perceptions index published by the nongovernmental corruption watchdog Transparency International. Meanwhile, more than 36% of the population lives on less than $2 a day, according to the World Bank.

Dos Santos’ children hold key positions and control large sectors of the economy including oil and gas, banking and cellphone companies. His most famous daughter, the billionaire Isabel dos Santos, is head of the state oil company Sonangol and Africa’s richest woman. His son Jose Filomeno dos Santos is chairman of Angola’s $5-billion sovereign wealth fund, Fundo Soberano de Angola. Another daughter, Welwitschia “Tchize” dos Santos, is a member of the powerful MPLA central committee and has interests in the banking sector.

Although Jose Eduardo Dos Santos has taken steps to cling to as much power as he can, things have not gone entirely his way. Last year, it looked as if Dos Santos was determined to stay in office. After he announced he would stand down at the end of 38 years in power, posters appeared around the Angolan capital Luanda, calling for him to stay on.

“Comrade President, please continue guiding the destiny of our country, asks the nation,” the posters said. But the campaign fizzled.

Dos Santos has been suffering from an undisclosed ailment and traveled to Spain twice this year for several weeks of treatment. Speculation last year that a close Dos Santos ally, former head of Sonangol, Manuel Vicente, would succeed as president faded, after Vicente was caught up in a corruption scandal in Portugal. He is now facing charges in Portugal over allegations that he bribed Portuguese corruption investigators, accusations he has denied.

The MPLA won the majority of the vote in elections last month, although opposition parties protested irregularities. The country’s constitutional court, whose judges are appointed by the president, dismissed their objections.

Lourenco did not win a presidential election but became president when the MPLA won the majority of seats in parliament. A constitutional change in 2010 ended direct presidential elections. He had campaigned on a promise to reduce poverty and corruption and to create development and jobs. Unemployment is at 26%, and Angola’s economy has been shrinking in recent years because of low oil prices.

The nation’s gross domestic product fell from $126.7 billion in 2014 to 89.6 billion last year, according to the World Bank.

Dissident investigative journalist and anti-corruption campaigner Rafael Marques de Morais, who runs an independent blog, Maka Angola, wrote recently that Angolans had been ruled for decades by leaders imposed by the MPLA.

“Angola has its third president in history, this time without even the pretense of legitimacy,” he wrote. He said the ruling party won the elections “with the usual cheating, made possible by the MPLA’s absolute control of the electoral process.”

According to Marques de Morais, the president’s family and a few generals and ministers close to the family control most of the economy.

In May, Marques de Morais reported that the reason Dos Santos traveled to Spain was that he had suffered a stroke. In June, after publishing an expose on a questionable land deal involving the Angolan prosecutor general, Marques de Morais and the editor who published his articles, Mariano Bras Lourenco, were charged with “defamation of a public authority.”

According to Amnesty International, the charges, which carry up to three years jail, are politically motivated and designed to deter critics of the ruling MPLA.

 

Source: This article was originally published on the Los Angeles Times. Read the original article.

Published in Opinion & Analysis

Despite Nigeria’s retail sector being dominated by independent formats like Open Markets and Kiosks in terms of absolute store numbers; the Nielsen Shopper & Retail World Conference held in Lagos, Nigeria, has revealed that Modern Trade formats like Supermarkets and Hypermarkets are stepping up to fulfil the needs of consumers.

Speaking at the event, Nielsen East-West Africa & Maghreb MD Abhik Gupta said this indicated that there is still a lot of scope for retailers seeking to grow their modern trade presence within Nigeria. “Organised retail has the means to provide a comprehensive shopping experience, but in tougher economic times shoppers are actively seeking promotions and value for money that would make their trip to the stores worthwhile,” he commented.

The conference also included a presentation on Shopper Trends in Nigeria. This indicated that in terms of main shopping destinations, more than half of shoppers visit Supermarkets and Hypermarkets, which together, account for 26% of spend. Beyond the organised retail space, 76% of consumers shop in Open Markets and on average shoppers frequent these outlets ten times a month or twice a week. The second highest number of shoppers (61%) visit Kiosks but far more frequently at 20 times a month, although a smaller proportion of their grocery spend (12%) is in this channel.

The main reason for Nigerians to embark on a shopping trip was regular pantry restocking, followed by essential or emergency item needs at 16% and everyday needs.

Shopper Joy

Within this assortment of retail options, one of the most interesting findings of the study is that 90% of Nigerian shoppers say they “enjoy doing grocery shopping” and 87% say they always prefer to shop in a well organised grocery store with a pleasant ambience, with the same number stating that when they shop for groceries; customer service is very important to them. To capitalise on this mindset; retailers should look for optimising the store experience via organised store layouts, innovative merchandising and stand out promotional displays. In addition, it’s clear that shopper engagement is key, complemented by personalised customer service.

Nigerians also carefully consider their choices prior to purchase, with 92% saying they usually plan what to buy before they shop for groceries and 86% stating they have a strict budget for household groceries, however 82% say although they do plan they usually end up buying additional grocery items, which shows they’re open to unplanned or impulse purchases.

Pricing Aware

Against a backdrop of tough economic conditions and high inflation the Shopper Trends study for Nigeria revealed that consumers have understandably become more price conscious. In response to this challenging scenario, 70% of Nigerian shoppers said they are aware of the prices of the items they buy off grocery shelves and more than 95% of shoppers notice when the price changes.

Sixty percent of shoppers indicated they are choosing to cut back on luxuries and only buying essential basket items, while 27% of shoppers are buying less groceries in total. In the effort to meet the rise in prices, another 23% are buying in bulk to gain lower prices and 17% of shoppers are switching to cheaper products.

The top FMCG retail category which has been affected by increasing food prices and resulted in lower purchases by shoppers are fruit juices (93%) followed by carbonated soft drinks and mineral water (92%); fresh meat/poultry and fish/seafood at 91%, and laundry detergent and household products category also at 91%.

Within this scenario, 76% of shoppers said they are influenced in some way by promotions and 21% were prepared to change stores, based on which one has the best promotions during that shopping trip. This provides an excellent opportunity for modern trade outlets which are synonymous with this type of activity to offer enhanced promotions to drive incremental sales.

Gupta added; “As Nigerian consumers look for greater value and efficiency due to the macro-economic and inflationary pressures they face, they are trading down on spend. Promotions and pricing will therefore be key tactics to attract consumers to stores.”

Published in Business

The leader of Kenya’s opposition coalition, Raila Odinga, has withdrawn from the repeat presidential election ordered by the country’s Supreme Court. Only two candidates were scheduled to compete in the upcoming poll, the other being the incumbent president, Uhuru Kenyatta.

A day after Odinga’s withdrawal, the Kenyan High Court ruled in favour of including another presidential candidate in the ballot, meaning that the election is now likely to go ahead. The new candidate, Ekuru Aukot, was an interested party in the Supreme Court case that invalidated the August 8th election.

Odinga’s pullout came in protest at the perceived inability of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to carry out a free and fair election.

In the recent petition to the Supreme Court, his National Super Alliance (NASA) accused the electoral commission of having failed in its duties to conduct an election, and demonstrated clear evidence of irregularities such as missing and forged electoral forms.

The Supreme Court found in favour of the opposition coalition, and so fresh elections were scheduled within 60 days. While there is consistency to Odinga’s distrust of the electoral commission, his position holds no legal consistency. The opposition made a petition to the Supreme Court and should therefore abide by its ruling. The court found that the electoral commission failed to conduct the election appropriately, but that there were no grounds for saying Kenyatta’s coalition, the Jubilee Alliance, had been the ones to rig it.

Odinga’s opposition coalition petitioned the courts and got the result they wanted. They should therefore have stood by the ruling and continued to follow constitutional channels. By withdrawing Odinga is terminating the country’s democratic processes. If the need for IEBC reform was enough reason to delay the election further, a case could have been brought to the Supreme Court on this basis.

The IEBC is a commission created by the Constitution, meaning its duty to conduct free and fair elections is a democratic fundamental. As such, political opposition to its operations has a clear legal remedy. Instead, Odinga’s abandonment of the process has handed legal credibility to his rivals.

Kenya is in uncharted territory. The group that sought free and fair elections through lawful means – the opposition coalition – has now abandoned trust in the constitutional commission set up to bring about the poll.

In making the decision Odinga has also signed a death sentence on his political career stretching back 40 years.

A history of hard fought battles

Odinga has had a lot of practice over very many years in navigating the difficult path between acting according to the rules of the system and opposing manipulation of those rules.

In 2002 he joined a broader inter-ethnic coalition to force leadership away from the Kenya African National Union (KANU). In power since independence in 1963, KANU had consistently thwarted the emergence of free and fair elections in Kenya in the 1990s under President Daniel arap Moi.

But those who initially spearheaded the inter-ethnic alliance also seemed to abuse the system to their advantage in the 2007 elections. Odinga led popular protests against the swearing-in of President Mwai Kibaki in complaint of this. The standoff plunged the country into one of its worst periods of political violence, with over 1,000 dead and hundreds of thousands internally displaced.

In 2013 Odinga took the disputed election results to the courts. But the Supreme Court allowed Kenyatta’s election to stand.

Many therefore felt that Odinga had finally got the democracy he’d fought for when the Supreme Court invalidated the 2017 results and ordered fresh elections. But that conclusion appears to have been premature. Odinga’s exit from the democratic process means opposition supporters’ faith in the system is at the point of collapse.

Odinga has been consistent in his criticisms of the electoral commission. And he has acted in a principled way. He should be praised for both.

Indeed, the failure of the electoral commission dates back as far as the constitutional referendum in 2010. A British court found that electoral commissioners accepted bribes from a UK firm to win the contract for printing ballot papers. In the 2017 elections, the accusation was that the local tallies did not match the central tallies being received electronically in Nairobi. The physical forms that would have reconciled the differences were then said to have been lost.

Despite the catastrophic failure to conduct this year’s election appropriately, the electoral commission chairperson refused to stand down, reducing public credibility in the institution to nil.

Complete new election?

The NASA coalition has tried to substantiate its position. Technically-speaking, they say, their withdrawal means no election can take place, and so a complete new election should be organised. So rather than Kenyatta being handed victory on a plate, a longer time for fresh elections would be given, with all allowed to compete as if it were a very first round. That would provide a breather of at least 90 days, with additional time for parties to nominate new leaders.

But such a legal argument is fanciful. It is based on a misreading of article 138 (8) (b) of Kenya’s Constitution which says that a complete new election must be organised if one of the candidates dies during the campaign period. The NASA coalition are arguing that their withdrawal from the elections is an abandonment that is forced by the failure of the electoral commission, and therefore tantamount to the death of a leader during the campaign period.

If they believe this is a solid legal argument, they can again petition the courts to invalidate the preparations for the fresh elections. But the legal argument is weak, and I doubt they will try this route.

The twist that NASA did not expect was the High Court ruling that a minor candidate is allowed to take the place of Odinga. That will mean an election that gives greater validity to Kenyatta’s inevitable victory – an enormous blow to Odinga’s strategy.

The High Court decision to include Ekuru Aukot is based on the fact that he was part of the original case that disputed the 2017 election results. But the court has made a grave error of legal judgment: Aukot was an ‘interested party’ to that case, not one of the ‘petitioners’. This is, in legal terms, a big difference. If he was a successful petitioner in the Supreme Court case, and therefore a valid candidate now, the fresh elections should have involved him from the start and been contested by three candidates.

One cannot simply add candidates as one goes to make the election look competitive.

In any case, the inclusion of Aukot will be of no consequence to the result. In the disputed 8 August polls he received a mere 0.18% of the vote, making him the 5th placed candidate. That compares against a supposed 54.17% for Kenyatta.

The electoral commission will, however turbulently, take forward the court judgments and hold an election between Kenyatta and Aukot. The polls will certainly mean Kenyatta is declared President of Kenya for his second term in a row.

This is the fault of Odinga who has taken the decision to exit lawful processes prematurely. The road to competitive free and fair elections in Kenya extends ever longer into the horizon.

 

Dominic Burbidge, Postdoctoral Researcher, Faculty of Law, University of Oxford

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Published in Opinion & Analysis

Johannesburg has emerged as the most popular destination city in Africa in 2016, followed by Cape Town, according to the annual Mastercard Global Destination Cities Index.

Johannesburg welcomed 4.57 million international overnight visitors in 2016 – an impressive 24 percent increase on the previous year’s 3.69 million visitors. Cape Town rose from third place in 2015 to become the second most popular African destination city in 2016 with 1.52 million visitors. Lagos (1.04 million), Casablanca (961 694), and Cairo (820 959) rounded out the top five African cities, while Durban remained in sixth place, attracting 758 057 international overnight visitors.

Johannesburg also topped the rankings in Africa in terms of international visitor expenditure, with travellers spending US$2.56 billion in 2016. Shopping accounted for the largest percentage of visitor spend, followed by accommodation and dining out.

“The City of Gold has shown the highest year-on-year growth in visitor numbers of all the African cities ranked in the 2016 index, illustrating that its mix of shopping, iconic attractions and tourism offerings is clearly hitting the mark with international travellers,” says Anton van der Merwe, Head of Market Development at Mastercard, South Africa. “Significantly, Jo’burg also reported a four percent increase in international expenditure from 2015 – much greater than South Africa’s GDP growth of 0.3 percent in 2016. This indicates that Johannesburg is well positioned to be an engine of broad economic growth for the country.”

The Mastercard Index of Global Destination Cities ranks the world’s top 132 destination cities in terms of visitor volume and spend for the 2016 calendar year. It also provides insight on the fastest growing destination cities, and a deeper understanding of why people travel and how they spend around the world. The 13 African cities ranked in the Index are Johannesburg, Cape Town, Lagos, Casablanca, Cairo, Durban, Accra, Dakar, Entebbe, Tunis, Nairobi, Maputo and Beira.

Some 78 percent of Johannesburg’s international overnight visitors in 2016 travelled from the Middle East Africa region. Mozambique was the number one country that sends visitors to Johannesburg, accounting for 1.02 million visitors or 22 percent of the total. The rest of the top five origin countries were Zimbabwe (841 000), Lesotho (493 000), Botswana (315 000) and Swaziland (215 000).

According to the City of Johannesburg, the Index rating affirms Johannesburg’s position as the major economic and cultural hub in Africa.

“Travel and tourism are increasingly important pillars of Johannesburg’s economy, with growth in this sector creating jobs and prosperity for our residents,” says City of Johannesburg Executive Mayor Councillor Herman Mashaba. “Johannesburg’s malls, restaurants, trade conferences and expos, and sporting and cultural events add up to a compelling tourism package that continues to attract international visitors – both from neighbouring African countries and abroad.”

Cape Town rises up the ranks

Cape Town and Durban are ranked number two and eighth in terms of expenditure in Africa, with international visitors spending US$1.2 billion and US$314 million respectively.

The Mother City attracted a larger proportion of long-haul visitors than Jo’burg, with travellers coming from the United Kingdom (335 000), United States (218 000), Germany (217 000) and the Netherlands (96 000). Cape Town’s highest number of African visitors came from Namibia (144 000). Durban’s top three countries of origin were Swaziland (295 000), Lesotho (52 000) and Zimbabwe (49 000).

The world’s top destination cities

Bangkok remained the top-ranked destination city by international overnight visitor arrivals with 19.4 million visitors in 2016, followed by London (19.06 million), Paris (15.45 million), Dubai (14.87 million) and Singapore (13.11 million).

From a spending perspective, Dubai tops the ranks with the highest international overnight visitor spend, amounting to US$28.50 billion in 2016. New York (US$17.02 billion), London (US$16.09 billion), Singapore (US$15.69 billion) and Bangkok (US$14.8 billion) round out the top five.

“We are seeing more people than ever visiting cities for business or leisure. At the same time, we know that people expect their experiences when traveling to be both seamless and personal,” says van der Merwe. “The call to action is clear. Cities that apply technology to simplify services and connect people with their passion points can become true destination cities and realize the benefits of increased visitors and greater spending.”

 

Published in Travel & Tourism

Former soccer star George Weah maintained his lead over Liberian Vice President Joseph Boakai as more provisional results from the West African country’s presidential election were announced on Friday.

If current trends hold, the rivals would contest a runoff next month to decide who will succeed Nobel Peace Prize winner Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in what would be Liberia’s first democratic transfer of power in decades. Based on returns from about a third of the country’s more than 5,000 polling stations, Weah has received 39.6 percent of votes cast, with Boakai of the ruling Unity Party (UP) at 31.1 percent, the elections commission said.

“We are still confident that there are places that we believe are our strong support ... We are very optimistic that with reports coming in, UP is going to take the lead,” Boakai told Reuters after Friday’s results announcement.

Charles Brumskine, a lawyer, was running third with 9.3 percent of the vote. The final certified results from Tuesday’s poll must be announced by Oct. 25, although the provisional first-round winner is expected to be known in the coming days.

Weah, a star striker for Paris Saint-Germain and AC Milan who won FIFA’s World Player of the Year in 1995, came in second behind Johnson Sirleaf in a 2005 election that drew a line under years of civil war that killed hundreds of thousands of civilians.

He has served in the senate since 2014 for the Congress for Democratic Change opposition party. Boakai, the former head of Liberia’s petroleum refinery company and agriculture minister, has served as Liberia’s vice president since 2006. Brumskine and the parties of two other candidates have said the vote was marred by fraud and vowed to contest the results, though international election observers have said they saw no major problems.

“The Liberian people deserve to know what was done,” Brumskine said. “They deserve a valid, transparent election. So many Liberians were deprived of their constitutional right to vote. We will, therefore, be requesting a re-run of the election.”

Liberia, Africa’s oldest modern republic, was founded by freed U.S. slaves in 1847, but its last democratic transfer of power occurred in 1944. Johnson Sirleaf’s nearly 12 years in office have seen the country’s post-war peace consolidated, although Liberians complain about poor public services and widespread corruption.

 

(Reuters)

Published in Economy

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma must face charges of corruption, fraud, racketeering and money laundering, the Supreme Court of Appeal has ruled. It agreed with a lower court ruling last year that prosecutors could bring back 783 counts of corruption relating to a 1999 arms deal.

The charges had been set aside eight years ago, enabling Mr Zuma to become president. The president has always maintained his innocence.

The president now expected South Africa's National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to consider representations from his legal team before making a decision about whether to prosecute him, it added.

The charges relate to Mr Zuma's relationship with a businessman, Shabir Shaik, who was tried and found guilty in 2005 of soliciting bribes from a French arms company "for the benefit of Zuma". Mr Zuma and other government officials have been accused of taking kickbacks from the purchase of fighter jets, patrol boats and other arms.

Charges were first brought against Mr Zuma in 2005 but dropped by prosecutors in 2009. Last year, the High Court in the capital, Pretoria, ruled in a case brought by the opposition Democratic Alliance that he should face the charges. Mr Zuma went on to lodge a challenge with the Supreme Court of Appeal.

It is the corruption case that will not go away. President Zuma has battled for years to avoid going on trial for 783 counts of corruption, linked to a politically charged bribery scandal that stretches back to the 1990s.
The case against him was dropped in controversial circumstances in 2009, when the security services produced recordings of phone conversations that apparently show there was "political meddling" by prosecutors.
Weeks later, Mr Zuma became president of the country.

But the so-called "spy tapes" have never been made public, and opposition parties have fought in the courts to have the corruption charges reinstated. After this appeals court ruling, that could now happen - in theory.
In practice, many believe South Africa's NPA is unlikely to proceed, at least not without further delays. Mr Zuma's presidential term ends in 2019, when he will not be eligible to stand in another election having already served two terms in office.

His eventful presidency has seen him survive eight votes of no-confidence, making him the most colourful and controversial president South Africa has had since white-minority rule ended in 1994.

 

Credit: BBC

Published in Economy

Anthrax has been detected in dead hippos floating in the Okavango River, officials in Botswana said, after more than 100 of the animals were suspected to have been killed by the disease in neighboring Namibia.
Botswana's Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism advised people not to touch the dead hippos and to report any sightings of hippo carcasses.

The Okavango Delta is a major tourist attraction in southern Africa, supporting a diverse range of wildlife.

Namibian media reported on Monday that more than 100 hippos had died in the remote Bwabwata National Park, in the northeastern part of the country, with anthrax the suspected cause. The Okavango River flows through Namibia before entering Botswana. Tourism is important for the economies of both countries.

 

Source: Reuters

Published in Travel & Tourism

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