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Zynga Inc. (NASDAQ:ZNGA)

Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Technology Conference

June 4, 2014 05:05 PM ET

Executives

Don Mattrick - CEO

Analysts

Justin Post - Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Justin Post - Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Everyone, thanks for joining us here as we get close to wrapping up our conference. Good to see all of you and very happy that Don has joined us today, new CEO of Zynga but obviously a wealth of knowledge from EA and Microsoft before that. So, getting to know Don a little bit better over the last few months has been great and I really appreciate you coming to the conference. Thank you.

Don Mattrick

Thank you, Justin and I also want to make an callout, David Lee, who is in the back corner, six weeks in role, new CFO who joined our team and I'd please to invite everyone to diligently exchange cards and to book time on David’s calendar.

Question-And-Answer Session

Justin Post - Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Great. So Don, you’ve inherited the company with a pretty interesting position in the world. Quite a large audience and also going through potentially a turnaround. So you’ve talked about vision awareness and can I ask that you maybe just recap how you see the company and what are some of the strengths that the company has right now.

Don Mattrick

Sure, thank you Justin. The first thing is we’re building on the trends that we’re seeing consumers around the global embrace. Mobile devices are being used through smartphones, through tablets and we know that people love to have fun, love to be entertained and the number one time use case that’s occurring is with gaming. About 32% of time spend blended between smartphones and tablets is spent having fun. So that’s great.

So that’s the trend. There's lots of stats about the device rate growth and when I look at Zynga before joining about 10 months ago, I was struck with the fact that Zynga had an amazing collection of assets that had not made the transition, the migration to this multiple device world. You needed to think about the consumer scenario of what are people doing. So let’s take an imaginary person who lives in Spain. They probably has an Android phone. They most likely has a iOS tablet. They have access to Facebook. They’re doing things through a browser and they really want to have experiences, all forms of experience that span multiple devices.

So the first thing we tried to solve was hey can we build the tech, can we build experiences that can stand those devices? Six weeks ago we launched FarmVille 2: Country Escape and that consumer scenario that we spoke about of -- on playing it on multiple devices, my identity, my dataset can move between Android and iOS and I can create a shared economy model with Facebook is what we’ve accomplished. I think that’s really important for Zynga as a Company, and allows us to take that framework and that consumer centric view to all products that we’re executing on, whether it’s our current live services or new products that we’re building.

Justin Post - Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Got it. And when you look at the base of users that you have, is that just an asset that you think you can really leverage over time?

Don Mattrick

Absolutely. Really, what we’re trying to do is recognize that all of us as consumers are super sophisticated and the emotional state that we want to get to with people is we want to build audience but really what we want to build are fans. People who love our experiences, love the value that we’re delivering, love the fun, love the social. And we’ve been blessed to have products like Words With Friends, our Poker Business, FarmVille and with the addition of NaturalMotion CSR Racing and Clumsy Ninja. So, we’ve got bets in five different categories that we’re in different stages of fully executing on that multi device shared model that I spoke about earlier.

Justin Post - Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Got it. And you’ve mentioned your new CFO is here.

Don Mattrick

David, right in the corner.

Justin Post - Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Hi David. So what percent of the management team has turned over in the last say six months since you’ve taken over and do you think you’re kind of moving on the right track there?

Don Mattrick

The majority of our team has turned over. And over the past 10 months I’ve tried to engage with people in a very thoughtful and deliberate way. The first thing when I on boarded, just meeting people who were there and saying what do you do, show me the tools that you’re using, do you have a point of view about competitors, about the market, do you have plans for growth over the next period of time, what do you love about our Company, our space, what is your personal legacy that you want to leave, how are you making teams better, how are we competing. And we've candidly de-cluttered some of the measures that we’ve gone through. We’ve taken a couple of layers of reporting structure out of our orb. So two layers are gone. We were 2,650 people when I joined. We went down to 1,800 people inside of Zynga in January-ish time frame. We acquired a Company based out of Oxford predominantly that added 270 people to the mix and we’ve on boarded some very sophisticated, very seasoned senior people who are capable of running a company 5x to 10x the size of what Zynga is currently.

David has come from Best Buy, Alex has come from Microsoft, Clive has come from bla, bla, bla. So we now have the team in place and we’ve also reached into the org, met with senior people and really said hey, do we have you plugged into the right project? Are you here to lead, to have a impact into the future and come up with ownership and social contracts about supporting people and generally getting the place switched on.

Justin Post - Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Got it. You have 2,100 or so people now and you look at one of your competitors, which has quite a fewer people. So I'm assuming a lot of those people are in group businesses that maybe we don’t see our, behind the scenes development for new genres that you mentioned. Any way of kind of thinking about the mix of sustaining your franchises versus the growth?

Don Mattrick

That’s a great question, and I’ve spoken this in the past in our earnings call, we have got a lot of bets on new. And why do we have that? We think that there are important categories for us to build capabilities, to build experiences, execute against experience, against managing network partners, against telemetry, data, tools, tech analytics that will unlocked value in the future. So we have more people than we need for the five core products that have been proven hits. And we think that’s the best use of our resources, of our capabilities is to build the growth business over multiple years and really pick areas where we think there’s a lot of value and compete and persist.

Justin Post - Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Got it. And you went public or early on just massive success on Facebook right, and then we have a transition to mobile and now you can check the chart data everywhere. And couples of your games are definitely Top 20. But how do you get Zynga back up to the top of the charts?

Don Mattrick

Well, yes, again we’ve got great assets. We have stabilized audience. In the prior call we talked about growth in our core franchises, whether it’s Words with Friend, whether its our Poker Business. People are seeing the results quarter-over-quarter and we’ve given guidance that we’re accomplishing the number one question I was asked 10 months ago which is, can you move your revenue base from web to mobile. And we have shared we are still believing that the majority of our audience will be on mobile at the end of 2014 and that that will be an important component of future growth inside of it. And we’re kind of executing as excited and bullish as when I joined 10 months ago is how the team feels today.

Justin Post - Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Got it. I mean and you look at Kings Financials, about 40% EBITDA margins. So you feel good about the EBITDA margin or which (indiscernible)….

Don Mattrick

We are nowhere near where we should ultimately be when we’ve executed inside of it. We’re single digits right now. Why is that? All the investment spend, the purposeful growth that we’re applying to our business. So we did not build this year as a test case for absolute profitability inside of Zynga. So we can do better on margins and EBITDA, no doubt about it.

I can kind of have the following premise which is, if you pick things that are important for consumers if you over deliver value and if you build capabilities and Farmville 2: Country Escape is an example of those capabilities, having a shared economy, being on multiple formats, kind of gaining that the ground that the Company gave to a competitor. Not bringing Farmville to mobile, creating an opportunity for SuperSell to have that product in market to build the business that’s generating whichever source you want to cite, more than a million dollars a day in revenue, that’s a miss. So we’re cleaning up some of those misses and getting to a point of view on what categories are important and how to build great teams, great leaders and go after it in the mid-term but in a persistent way.

Justin Post - Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Got it. And this is more of an industry discussion but you're probably the right guy because you've seen both sides of it. But you’re able to sequel Halo for example very well. EA, back when you are there, a lot of the titles you could put out every year, annual franchises. Do mobile games work in the same way or is there a way to get there where people could be more comfortable once you piqued them declines after the first year?

Don Mattrick

We’re at an early stage in the industry right now and candidly it reminds me of what I experienced at Electronic Arts when the company first went public in 1991. So here are questions, I don’t know if this rings true to anyone in the audience. I have four friends. They're Stanford computer science graduates. Why are the games that you’re going to build in Electronic Arts any better than what they can execute one? Literally for three years that was kind of the set of questions by people trying to analyze our business.

So here is what I would share. There always will be creative breakthroughs, things that people build that are amazing inspirational and low cost, that exist inside of the industry, that’s existed inside a feature film, in television, inside of gaming. Inversely there are going to be companies that build capabilities build brand, build teams, build consumer insights and start creating differentiation and add to their value overtime by persisting in categories. We’re trying to build that Company which is multiple products in multiple categories that we know consumers value and there will be a clear leader in those categories

Cars and racing, clear category. People, Clumsy Ninja, other products centered on People; there will be a clear leader. Poker, slots; people like to feel lucky. There will be a leadership suite of products inside of those. Farming; invest and express, there will be clear leaders inside of that.

So that’s a journey that we’re embarking on as the Company is create complete teams, understand consumers, understand positioning relative to competitors and score everything that we do just simply against forwards Is it worse, is it the same, is it better, or is it better and unique. And if you want to lead in a category, the majority of times you need to be better or better and unique and you need to have very targeted efforts to build awareness and to message the consumers that your product exists. The one thing that at scale incumbents do get is they get the ability to use their existing audience to cross promote.

In the case of FarmVille 2: Country Escape, we launched our product with very little spend early on, because we had built-in brands, because we had the ability to share with web users that we have a product coming on Android and iOS and candidly because we modelled that competitors would probably spend just at our launch window and we believe that we were launching something and building a product and experience over a prolonged period of time, multiple years. And that’s what we've been doing is starting to scale, starting to ramp that stuff up. I’m really happy with what we -- with the product, and it’s a fun experience, and consumers love it and we're getting good ratings and we are off to a good start.

Justin Post - Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Excluding NaturalMotion, you guided Zynga to kind of sequential growth this year for the back half. Is that kind of more dependent on stabilizing the initial brands or is it some success for some new titles or how are you (indiscernible).

Don Mattrick

Well there are three things that we talk about in our Company meetings; grow and sustain our proven live franchises, create new products and drive efficiencies in the business; and that’s putting systems in place, that’s doing all the things that you would expect a public company to do, on boarding people like David who really have an appreciation for cash, cash flow management and the importance of having a rolling three-year plan.

So we made really good progress on all of those things. The volatility and the hard thing for you all model is the new stuff. Is it valuable, is any of it going to add to the P&L, when does it add to the P&L, how much should I model, and what I've shared is as we going to geoloc with our products, we'll acknowledge what we’re creating. Assume that things that we're creating, we’re creating with a belief that we will persist over multiple years in important categories and build the business that’s more valuable year-over-year. And we've demonstrated straight and we can do that with our proven hits. We intend to take that knowledge from our live teams and apply it to our new products, and again I think that there is this great audience, great profit pools, great business opportunity. I believe candidly we’re going to see multiple winners emerge, not dissimilar to other forms of media, and by a winner, a company that has at least 10% share in at least two important territories in the world. And when you model that out, those are pretty great businesses.

Justin Post - Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Got it. King mentioned some seasonality in the summer in their presentation. Have you thought about that at all or is it too early as an industry really to kind of think about mobile seasonality.

Don Mattrick

We’re moving from Pacific Northwest to California. I do think that this thing called sunshine impacts my personal activity. So if that seasonality that more people are outdoors maybe – the interesting thing about our category is growth. So audience growth, device growth and different hits ship at different times. I suspect that there could be a natural seasonality curve. I don’t know how to model it precisely in a growth market. I think that your year-over-year comps are more about what’s in the quarter, relative to the prior quarter, probably than just a seasonality of consumers, because I don’t believe we're at a market that has absolute saturation.

Justin Post - Bank of America Merrill Lynch

And then, you did mention that you expect two or three winners in the marketplace and share to be over 10%. If you had to think about what’s going to distinguish Zynga on a two to five year basis, what do you think it could be?

Don Mattrick

The first three wins that you spoke about, vision for the business that we want to create; awareness of where we are and what to do when you’re addressing the creation of a team, the execution of something technical, something creative, something from the business, and having tenacity. And what’s tenacity? A great balance sheet. It is wonderful to be CEO of a company with $1.1 billion in cash, to be able to generate cash, to be able to recruit world class people like David, like Alex, others who can run a much larger business and are energized about our category.

Justin Post - Bank of America Merrill Lynch

And that does bring us to, you spent some money on NaturalMotion earlier this year. Is it really just a really interesting tech platform for you that you can utilize across the business? Is that the major driver or was there some little games in there that you thought would be the winners?

Don Mattrick

Yeah, here is -- so I’ve observed NaturalMotion for a decade. So here is what I admired about what Torsten and team created. A group of people doing their Phd at Oxford go to a pub, bang their heads, ceiling is pretty low at that particular pub, I actually went there. Sit around and say what is fascinating? What’s fascinating is neural networks that learn how people and animals move generating the physics, making it real time, having the ability to create amazing animation against those models that are life like. So five people switch from being at Oxford to focusing in on that. They build tech that shows up first in feature films, Lord of the Rings, 300 A.D. and the large crowd scenes that we’ve seen with 1,000s of people interacting in very natural life like ways. That was their early instantiation of their tools and tech.

That gets moved to PCs and video game machines, that’s great, that powers products like Grand Theft Auto, Red Dead Redemption, other hit titles. They then move that tech to iOS and to Android and they shift one hit with CSR and one hit with Clumsy Ninja. Using that tech pipeline, not even thinking about what it means to architect the design and a product that’s going to run over the next five years. 270 people, average 10 year approximately 7.5 years. Oxford is an amazing place, there is a lot of growth, there is cost advantages, they are super passionate people, there's a just a lot of good news with that company. So I saw that company as the best independent creator with the best pipeline of proven hits and future hits that we could buy. And it'll take time for them to ship the things that are new, it'll take time for them to iterate in on CSR and Clumsy. But I think that everything that I’ve seen and our team seen is encouraging and I believe in the long term value premise.

Justin Post - Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Will that tech games from them or can you integrate it into the other Zynga studios and…

Don Mattrick

It'll be games from them, it will influence the existing products inside of Zynga, and Zynga will influence how NaturalMotion runs live services, because we’ve run products like Poker for nearly eight years. So there is a live services culture that we’ve already started to shift from Zynga to NaturalMotion. And there is just wow factor and their tools and tech and visualizations and physics models will start showing up inside of our products. So there is synergy both ways.

Justin Post - Bank of America Merrill Lynch

And are you excited about the title pipeline, as you -- that’s something maybe as you look and it doesn’t [indiscernible]?

Don Mattrick

I'm really excited and I wish I could put everyone under non-disclosure and non-violate any securities law, have you form your own opinion. We have picked principles that we've said, hey over some period of time by your shipping stuff you’ll know what we’re creating. It'll be able to form your own opinion of what we’re doing.

Justin Post - Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Keep it between us and the [indiscernible]

Don Mattrick

Yeah. Well, look it’s important that you build the culture that’s committed to excellence and putting consumers first, we’ve accomplished that and we’ve got a lot of hard work to do. And each product will go through a stage of moving from production to having some out scale consumer test and we’ll make the best decision once we have that data, ship it that time or spend a little bit more time iterating on your new things. With again that pivot of being medium term value unlocks where you’re building assets that are going to live for multiple years in the market.

Justin Post - Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Now I'll ask you about FarmVille 2, you referenced it a couple of times. It was probably the biggest product launch this quarter. What can you tell us about the launch and [indiscernible]

Don Mattrick

Yes, look I'm happy with what the team has achieved. We have the ability to identify consumers. We’ve charted depending on which device and form factor in top 30 and above even 15-ish. So, it’s a good start for six weeks into market. And one of the things that I think is important is people recognize that these products live for multiple years and with nurturing, with refinement, with investment can grow and scale. We believe those statements are true with FarmVille.

Justin Post - Bank of America Merrill Lynch

And does it work in a mobile [indiscernible]…

Don Mattrick

Yes, the feedback from consumers has just been great. People really like the ideas having identity, multiple devices, multiple state and the ability to create a shared economy moving resources from one version to another, people who are invested in the FarmVille universe and fiction really like that. And you can see that in the reviews and through the consumer focus groups that we’re doing with the product.

Justin Post - Bank of America Merrill Lynch

And you think you could get some of your PC players to shift over to mobile and maybe spend more or would they [indiscernible]?

Don Mattrick

Look the fact that we didn’t have a mobile version of FarmVille is what created the opportunity for Hay Day. So we’re just detangling and doing the obvious things. Imagine we went to the schoolyard, left our lunchbox unattended, someone was eating it. We're just kind of picking up our lunch now.

Justin Post - Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Are there some other franchises we should think at the same time on mobile or -- You've already got Poker and…?

Don Mattrick

As I've share with 2,000 people we are clearly building a lot of new, we have proven heads, people know the things that we shipped in the past that have touched hundreds of millions of consumers. You know the things that NaturalMotion is there, I would say what’s unique about Zynga is we have five proven products that have achieved number one and now what we have to do are build dedicated teams that can focus and execute on those in a predictable way and build great businesses. So, that’s kind of the current knowns and our team will get measured by how well we execute and how many new things we successfully add-in over the coming period of time. And what period of time, 2014 - 2015 I think you're going to get a good read on the company that we’re aspiring to build and modeling will get easier at that point in time.

Justin Post - Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Got it. Before we open up to the audience, I'd like to ask about advertising, it's been an area of -- like beat on large numbers in the last couple of quarters. So what games work well with advertising and are you seeing any impact on usage or is it just kind of enhancing the experience maybe?

Don Mattrick

Words With Friends works well with advertising. And we get a lot of usage, all the mobile traffic usage add trends supply to our space and I think people use that product. We have seen growth inside of it. We have aspirations to do things with future versions of it and logical adjacencies and that’s a great example of what I would describe as an ad center product. We have other products which are more virtual goods, in-app purchase centered and I think as a company it’s important to have both.

Justin Post - Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Are you building in for ads specifically or are you building more of the…?

Don Mattrick

No, we are building products for people and people like different things, so the consumer attributes that we hear with Words With Friends, smart, sophisticated, social. That's what are typical Words With Friends user is looking to do. They want to learn something each day. They want to participate. They want to stay in touch with friends and that product has existed in market for multiple years and I imagine it will exist for multiple years into the future and grow in scale. So that’s the kind of business that we want to create, that would be the best example of an ad centered product in our other products, there is a mix depending on what we think is most appropriate for consumers.

Justin Post - Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Got it. Why don’t we see, I have more for sure, if we have any questions out there? Pretty quiet, all right. Talk about Asia, what you are thinking for Asia? I know King might be thinking about going out there with some of their franchises, is that an opportunity for you to expand?

Don Mattrick

It’s an opportunity and arguably it’s a place that has the most well established and trench competitor in 10 cent, so China is a large market. We will spend time studying it thinking about what’s the appropriate way to bring our content to market, but there is a unique set of attributes that go with China. And I think the place where Zynga can grow is just about everywhere else in the world easier than that market just with the nature of distribution and the way that products are regulated and controlled.

Justin Post - Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Got it. I wanted to dig into Poker a little bit, I think it’s kind of turn the corner here. What do you think grows at kind of leveling off there? Is it some changes you've made in the franchise and can it be a growth franchise for you from here?

Don Mattrick

Well, here are some of the changes that we made. The set of people who were leading that product when I joined aren’t there. There is a new set of people leading that product. The people who were leading that product took a step back and said this is our point of view on what it’s going to take to grow and these are the things that we should build to complement the asset that we have. So, we made a leadership change. We put together again a point of view on how we can compete and win over multiple years and we've spent much more time getting closer to consumers, closer to competitors. We have recruited in Clive to run a publishing or nail scores the work that the studio is doing versus having the studio people score their own work. So, that’s a cultural change and it helps with management and objectivity on where we are and getting people focused on delivering things that are better and unique. When you deliver value to consumers, they respond, they spend more time, when they spend more time they usually monetize to a higher level. Those are the trends that we are seeing with our Poker product.

Justin Post - Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Got it. And for a while there were some talk about real money gambling potential for you and it looks like you pulled back for that now?

Don Mattrick

Over the last period of time we have been very consistent, we are focused on social. RMG is not a principle area focus for us as a company, we think that there is great business, great growth with our social casino slots and other, I want to feel lucky and have fun with my friends products.

Justin Post - Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Got it. And then racing is a category you've had lot of experience with the DA and…

Don Mattrick

Yes, I mean I think that there is a lot of categories that have tremendous potential that have not been executed on relative to the full value, racing is a great example. So, we are really excited to have CSR. CSR since its shift has generated 100 million installs, the team has done great work, it’s a beautiful product and their future aspirations to go further to build more features, more functionality. And I think that’s a really important global category.

Justin Post - Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Does it work on a cell phone, I mean the players?

Don Mattrick

I mean you have to design for mobile first which is the control inputs can’t be the same as a 17 buttoned joystick keypad. But simplified controls, the ability to build collection of cars to have the ability to compete to just do all the things you do, that’s a universal fantasy and it’s something that we will build on.

Justin Post - Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Great. One of the things that I have noticed, I’ve got a lot of apps on my phone, good or not. And I can play games for hours without paying and what can you and the industry. 32% of time is giving away a lot of value in a way. What can you and the industry do to transfer those economics to you versus the value you provide? Or is it just that competitive…

Don Mattrick

Here is what we can do, we can convert audience into stands, so as soon as you do that and people are getting something that they really love and they want to share, they’re going to feel great about monetizing. So richer experiences, we’ve seen great examples of that in Korea, in Japan, in China. People are paying multiples in terms of average revenue per user, there is more time being spent, they're just really sophisticated experiences. And I think we live in a world which has changed forever because of smartphones and tablets. So we’re building against the number one use case, number one time case inside of it. And our industry is early and there is a great opportunity as businesses scale to continue to persist and use the scale, use the knowledge to accelerate learnings of everything that the company is creating.

Justin Post - Bank of America Merrill Lynch

If the industry were to consolidate, do you think the pay ratios would go up or the profitability go -- I mean not that some companies don’t have great profitability already, but if it consolidates do you think be more demand and is that would happen in Asia over time?

Don Mattrick

China is I think a unique case, you can argue that Zynga on Facebook enjoyed 70 plus percent share, it’s unclear to me if any one company will get to a 70 plus percent share on Android or iOS. So I think is achievable. If you look at most media companies that are important categories, there are multiple companies that have more than 10% share. So I think that’s a kind of reasonable expectation. And then you have to pick which team, which company, does it have a portfolio of products, how is it performing, how is it executing, can it grow slide services, can it create new, can it create tools tech and data that gives a better experience to consumers and a better business result inside of that. Zynga is that company, we have that portfolio we have a leadership team that can grow and I believe that we can build a really valuable business in the medium term, particularly with the categories that we spoke about.

Justin Post - Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Got it. One last check for questions. No, okay. The balance sheet, it's last question from me, it's a just a great asset for you, so I think probably attracted you to the company because you can build something. Dave is probably a conservative guy, but I guess we’ll find out overtime. But lot you could do to fill that away or a lot you could do to really create value for the company. So maybe walk us what are you thinking there?

Don Mattrick

Sure, the first thing about having more than 1.1 billion of cash and owning building in downtown San Francisco is people get a sense that the business is going to exist in the next few years and can invest for growth in an important category. So we did that with the NaturalMotion acquisition and the other invest for growth attribute of a strong balance sheet is it allows me to recruit people like David who could go to multiple places and know that there is a real economic impact opportunity and that his paycheck will cash every two weeks. So that’s the beauty of having a strong balance sheet is, people get that you’ll persist that you’ll compete, that you can have tenacity and that the company when it sees things that unlocks shareholders value meets the criteria can execute on. Those things could be acquisitions, it could also be strategic partnerships, they can take form in multiple ways and I love having that as an asset, it’s something we really value.

Justin Post - Bank of America Merrill Lynch

One last question is -- 2100 people or so, how quickly can you move people around and target a new opportunity or move. How nimble is the company?

Don Mattrick

The company is getting more nimble. Again, we want to is, we want to make sure if you moved people around that you do it in respectful way. So the most important thing is if you want to build a successful culture it needs to be based on trust. So you can’t have a project team have one great meeting or one bad meeting and randomize the work that they are doing. You need people to have plans, you need to have hard gates, you need to test it against consumers and competitors and you need to give people the information and have a constructive management process. That’s the culture that we’re building inside the company. And I believe it will attract some strongest collection of people who will believe that their work is important, that they can have the impact and can be an active participant in making decisions, because they have information and they can score their work relative to consumers, relative to competitors.

Justin Post - Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Well, I appreciate your spending time with us, really interesting story.

Don Mattrick

Thank you, Justin.

Justin Post - Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Thank you.

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