There’s something about Canadian Economic Press (Otherwise known as CEP News)

Now updated
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Canadian Economic Press or CEP News is a curious news operation with a puzzling business model.

It’s registered as a numbered company with one director, Darren Corbett, who has no background in news and no internet business profile. What’s more, when CEP News needed someone to explain to the Canadian Embassy in Washington why it should be given official accreditation, it didn’t send Corbett but rather Matthew Stone, its top editor, who is also an unknown quantity in media circles.

According to an embassy spokesman, the diplomats had their doubts about how CEP News could compete against competition like Reuters, Bloomberg and Dow Jones, but Stone and Marshall Taylor, the Washington correspondent who is also listed as a company director on LinkedIn, convinced them that it was a viable business operation. Taylor, by the way, does have a background in financial journalism unlike most of the other very young staff hired by CEP News.

When CEP News suddenly closed its Washington bureau in April, it told the embassy staff that its investor had pulled out and it hoped to be back when it found new sources of funding. Last week, a commenter revealed here that the London bureau has also shut down.

Since the closings, CEP News has stopped describing itself as “one of Canada’s fastest growing news companies.” Instead, it is going with “one of Canada’s most established sources for global economic and financial news,” which it very clearly is not, given that almost no one has heard of it.

In fact, when I first wrote about Canadian Economic Press News, the blog post rose so high in the Google rankings that Paula Midena, director of sales and marketing, moved almost immediately — and unsuccessfully — to set up a Wikipedia page for the company. (Scroll down to see the discussion)

As a privately held company, CEP News is, of course, not obliged to provide information to outsiders, but transparency is a quality that helps news organizations while lack of transparency is a hindrance. It’s hard to run a business asking people questions and then refuse to answer questions yourself.

When CEP News closed its Washington bureau, the Senate Press Gallery was asking questions about where the Canadian operation’s revenues came from. Had CEP News not shuttered the D.C. office, it would have had to provide more information.

In the mean time, it remains unclear just how CEP News earns money, if indeed it does. It has the requisite Google Adsense ads and some other display advertising but given its low profile and lack of page views, those can’t be bringing in any serious money. As for subscriptions, it’s hard to see why any major business would subscribe and non-major businesses aren’t going to be paying hefty subscription fees.

So the questions remain: Why start and finance a news operations that almost certainly has to be losing money? Why be so secretive about it? What does one have to gain from running an operation like this?
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If you have any theories or, better yet, facts, please get in touch with me at  ann-dot-brocklehurst-at-gmail-dot-com. Please do not post unsubstantiated rumours.
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Update: According to sources, the main figure behind Canadian Economic Press is Marco Gomez, whose background is finance in “the City,” London’s version of Wall Street. My working theory is that CEP News’ main revenues do not come from the news service but from some kind of trading/financial activity. Dito, all those other similar news services (see comments.)

It all reminds me of Geosign. You emphasize one business — online publishing — while really making your money somewhere else. There’s likely some kind of loophole being exploited for a limited period of time, namely until others wise up and figure it out.

52 thoughts on “There’s something about Canadian Economic Press (Otherwise known as CEP News)

  1. IN D.C., there’s always a certain amount of caution about anyone who wants to get into lockups where market-moving financial information is released.

    I’m not saying this has anything to do with it, but it was the first thing that crossed my mind.

  2. The difference between Bloomberg and CEP News is that Bloomberg is and always was a viable business.

    Before Bloomberg was in the news biz, it was providing financial tools and info. that no one else did.

    Bloomberg himself was a Wall Streeter who saw a need and filled it. He wasn’t a secret investor that no one had ever heard of.

    What is CEP News providing that’s unique? Absolutely nothing.

    So what’s the purpose of its existence?

    And who are the investors? What do they get out of owning a news agency that no one’s heard of, provides absolutely nothing that can’t be had elsewhere, and that’s now shedding staff?

    What’s the real story here because it sure as hell isn’t that private equity has snapped up another valuable property?

    If CEP News is valuable, it aen’t for the news service, it’s for something else.

  3. Intershow and Moneyshow.com would definitely have the expertise to set up an operation like Canadian Economic Press. Also, they could afford it. Still doesn’t answer the “why” question though. And it doesn’t prove anything.

  4. Investors are probably hoping for a big return, maybe they want sell to Ruport Murdoch too! there’s like 10 small/web newswires/portals all backed by hedgies. Maybe Rupert will buy them all! Hes got cash to burn.

  5. Here’s another one, it called Need To Know News (very creative name) based out of DC.

    http://www.needtoknownews.com/

    Maybe that’s the kinda of company CEP is competing against and not the biggies.

    BTW, “Beltway Hack” why would Moneyshow.com (or Intershow) want to own or create a seemingly shoddy company like this, when they can (and do) partner with some of the biggest names in the finacial press for their trade shows/exhibitions & new website?

    I am not having a poke at you, but quite a few articles on CEP’s free homepage are quite messy and poor. Look at some of these jewels:

    http://www.economicnews.ca/cepnews/wire/article/single/92654/

    http://www.economicnews.ca/cepnews/wire/article/92127

    http://www.economicnews.ca/cepnews/wire/article/92485

    I haven’t seen a wire copy start “On Friday,….” or with “According to…”

    Google search the same story by any other source and you can tell how poor the effort is (at least thats my opinion).

    For the first time, I read their free content, and agree with “Dogtwitterer”, if this is the work of Canada’s most established new media co…then there is sure as hell no scope for the rest of us 🙂

  6. Hey Beltway Hack, Wally and Anonymous, thanks for your insights.

    Wally, I had thought about a hedge fund conection for CEP News. If you go into the Wayback Machine and look at their earlier pages, they mention hedge funds and investment bankers — and then all of a sudden that reference is dropped. How come? Too close to home? Or, maybe it was just pure coincidence.

    As for Rupert Murdoch, he only buys properties of real value. MySpace and the WSJ are both valuable. CEP News — or the public face of CEP News — is not. There’s no there there.

    Now, if you could be more specific about what Hedge Funds and what news portals you are talking about, that would be very helpful.

    Anonymous, Need to Know is indeed another curious case. In fact, the Senate Press Gallery had all sorts of questions about them too.

    I haven’t checked Need to Know out in detail, but from the brief look I took, it appeared to be another front-type operation.

    I’ve even wondered if these news services were arbitrage operations like Geosign but can find no evidence to support that.

    The bottom line for me is that the successful online content providers are all good at what they do and attract audience.

    Geosign, CEP News, Need to Know are not. So there has to be another reason for their existence. In the case of Geosign we learned what it was — an elaborate arbitrage operation.

    But with CEP and Need to Know News, I just can’t crack the code.

    Beltway Hack, Can you tell us any more about Moneyshow and Intershow. Anonymous makes a good point, and their sites are also way more transparent than CEP News’.

    As well, does anyone have a clue about Darren Corbett, EIC Matthew Stone, Marshall Taylor and the bloke in Australia?

    I really would love to figure out what this is all about.

  7. Looked more at Need to Know.

    I’m suspicious that it doesn’t list its management, but it seems more professional than CEP News.

    I don’t know enough about trading but my hunch is it’s aimed at the smaller traders who can’t afford Bloomberg and Reuters.

    Maybe someone who knows more about trading can fill us in.

  8. Yeah, there’s tons of these news startups with bad business models. Here’s another one thats hilarious, World Business Press – Slovakian newswire, with an office in Canada, releases canadian economic news… in English. How much demand can there be for that in Slovakia? Doglady, whats your take on this model? http://www.wbponline.com

  9. Very strange.

    There has to be one simple piece to this puzzle tht we’re missing.

    These operations can’t be profitable for their news operations so they have to be getting the revenues — if there are any — from something else.

    But, what?

    And why are the people behind them always so secretive?

  10. I actually use economicnews.ca pretty often for Canadien news. They’re good for purely Canadien stuff, news on the loonie, etc. Their US coverage is so so at best but the CAD stuff is actually quite good

  11. I am a part-time forex trader…(or not being too formal – a part-timer who likes a flutter) based in Kitchener, ON. I’ve been approached both by CEP & Need To Know News via third party sales calls or so it seems. One thing I can say is that CEP News people try to suggest they’re something big while the DC company’s call was more leaning towards how it could benefit me as a small trader – Don’t know if this piece of info is of any use to the debate on here! In any case I didn’t take either of the subscription offers. My boyfriend and I are pretty happy with my paid subscription to WSJ.com & FT.com – both in addition to their stuff, carry Reuters, DJ pieces.

    Another thing I’d like to add is that Intershow (probably) have nothing to with all this ballyhoo. I have attended three of their trade shows in the past and get frequent mailings from them. Moneyshow.com, is own their wholly-sponsored website. They’ve got people like Templeton and all speaking at their shows and media partners like Dow Jones. Besides Intershow was started by a couple based in Florida, why would they start or back “Canadian” Economic Press, even if as a front company! It would be weird to say the least!

    This blog is going around like wildfire, and finding its way to other blogs. Not only is it the third Google entry for CEP News, it also the 4th & 5th one now! Another few days of this and we’ll be on the Drudge Report! Whoever this Darren Corbett is, must be a worried man!

  12. Coming from an investment background, I can tell you that the market for financial news is pretty big. I was at a firm that subcribed to bloomberg and reuters and like 6 others vendors even though there was about 99% overlap – they just don’t care. If these boutiques can steal 1% of that spending they are rolling in it.

  13. Hmmm, well, okay, if these new business news services are targeting small individual investors that makes some sense. They’d be going after the fish that aren’t big enough for the big guys.

    To further mix metaphors, it would be a long tail business model based on getting subscription fees from Mom and Pop investors. That seems to be what Need to Know is doing. And it would partially explain the presence of CEP News stories on various forex sites targeted at individual investors.

    But why wouldn’t CEP News just say that was its business model — going after small investors — instead of making a big deal out of getting non-existent Canadian news out of Washington, London and Frankfurt?

    And why be so secretive about the company’s backers? Giving online bios of seasoned managers boosts rather than detracts from credibility. No information raises suspicions.

    And, finally, Anonymous, I’d be more inclined to believe your story about getting calls from sales agents if there was indeed a traffic spike for this story, which there is not.

    Until we figure out what’s driving these news services and who’s behind them, there’s no story.

    In the end, I always come back to the question of why an investor would be willing to spend $1-2 million to annually to fund CEP News?

    Presumably they have their reasons.

  14. Dogtwiter, a buddy told me about RTTNews and I looked them up – I had never heard of them but they seem to be rocking it, I don’t know how, but they apparently charge between $2,500 and $25,000 to websites that want to republish their content (nutz, is that even possible?)….if they have 100 of those at the low end thats a pretty crazy $250,000/mth business (no idea how many sites they send to but it seems like a lot). I tried to get more info about the company but couldn’t find much on the web – they don’t even have any about us info on their website, which is odd to me…

  15. RTT News is Real Time Trading. They don’t claim to be anything which they aren’t and explain who backs them. If you ring them, they aren’t as secretive as CEP News. We subscribe to them.

    Someone here, wanted info about CEP News’ Sydney bloke – Tim Stackpool, well here it is. It seems he’s an Aussie freelance voice-over artist and writer.

    http://www.timstackpool.com/

    Here’s one of his articles on CEP’s website –

    http://www.economicnews.ca/cepnews/wire/article/single/89891/

    That office CEP give in Sydney as their address is probably his home or office, hence no contact numbers (or so I think).

    Doglady, you commented on traffic or lack of it to this blog, but I can say for sure, its being used in marketing cross-fire by these small botiques. However, in suggesting that this forum was hitting the Drudge Report & getting pasted all over Google, a previous emailer was getting a bit carried away!!! Nonetheless it does make for uncomfortable reading for those in question….as it does come-up on the first Google search page if CEP are searched, as either 3rd or 4th entry – sometimes both.

  16. Good stuff. I will check out RTT News a bit more.

    Also, re Stackpool, my questions are why him and why Sydney? London, Washington, I can see, but why pick Sydney unless there’s some kind of personal connection?

  17. Good to hear from you too!

    You don’t happen to know anything about Canadian Economic Press?

    How about what kind of wine to serve with sushi pizza?

  18. Thanks Ann! Suishi pizza is easy: a zippy white, such as riesling or sauvignon blanc, to cut through the fat of the cheese and to cleanse the palate of the fishy taste. The tannins in red wines would likely clash with the iodine in the fish.

    I don’t know much about the CEP, but I could recommend some wines for them: probably a blend of obscure grapes with a short finish.

    Cheers,
    Natalie

    http://www.nataliemaclean.com

    Love shabby-chic combos. Here are my top 10 fun food and wine matches:

    1. Popcorn with Chilean Chardonnay

    2. Nachos with California Zinfandel

    3. Potato chips with French Champagne

    4. Pizza with Italian Chianti

    5. Fish and chips with German Riesling

    6. Hamburgers with Australian Shiraz

    7. Smoked salmon with Canadian or Oregon Pinot Noir

    8. Quiche with New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc

    9. Canned brown beans with tawny Port

    10. TV dinner steak with French or Washington Cabernet Sauvignon

  19. Oooh another name in CEP News saga….nothing in public domain about this Gomez guy, like much of CEP staff!

    Your theory sounds good, but is this mode of business legal in your opinion? What if this Darren Corbett is a trader too? One more thing is what if M/s Gomez and Corbett are just names being touted and that in truth its someone else! Must be some legal loop they’re exploiting….but what?

  20. I have absolutely no reason to suspect there’s anything illegal going on.

    I think this is some kind of long tail business where they make a little on a whole lot of transactions.

    Just wish I knew what the transactions were.

    I also suspect that the reason for the secrecy is that this is an easily replicable business model if you have the required cash to invest.

    Like the ad arbitrage, Geosign was involved, it probably has a limited lifespan.

    What money there is to be made has to be made before the loophole closes.

    The fewer people that know what’s really going on, the longer you can keep the operation going with high ROI.

    Of course, I could be completely wrong….

    Also, it helps that there’s a Darren Corbett who’s a boxer and dominates the Google SERPs. And there’s a Marco Gomez who’s a golfer.

    Hmmm….

  21. Thanks for the update Doglady, makes sense. Can you give an update on the World Business Press? I’m still really puzzled by this one.

    Thanks,

  22. I suspect World Business Press is exactly the same type of operation as CEP News (whatever that operation is.) Only it’s the Bratislavian version as opposed to the Montreal one.

    Personally, I love how WBP lists the places they cover — Sydney, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Bratislava, London, New York.

    It’s like one of those test questions where they ask you, “Which item does not belong on this list?”

  23. Uhhhhhh can I interrupt the conspiracy theories for a moment to ask Ann, do you actually subscribe to any of these newswires at all? For the Canadian Economic, their chatterwire on the Pro platform is better then MarketNews bullets in my opinion and their main wire is putting out hundreds of original headlines a day, not to mention their audio squawk. Can we take a moment to consider the possibility that they might actually be a newswire? I don’t know anything about World Business Press but RTTNews is also very much the real deal and not exploiting some short term “loophole.” They have tons of good US and international content, podcasts, syndication to tons of sites, etc. Need to Know News same thing, they don’t just cater to small traders that can’t afford Reuters or Bloomberg as you suggested, I know many institutional firms that have them and some of these other wires too. All these firms have guys coming from a financial background. They’re financial newswires after all, I would be kinda worried if they didn’t.

  24. Geoff R, thanks for that.

    I agree that having managers coming from a financial background is a plus. So, why on earth would you not talk it up? Why be so secretive?

    I haven’t been able to find anyone who subscribes to CEP News. Can you help provide some names?

    And how about a few examples of the kind of story that you get from these wires that you can’t get elsewhere?

    If these services are filling a niche no one else fills, jus explain what the niche is and that will put an end to the conspiracy theories.

    E-mail me if you want.

  25. In terms of the niche, I’m sure they are all carving out a slightly different space but as someone else eluded to in your comments, institutional firms certainly don’t settle for one data source and call it day and there are also alot of joe blow traders out there. For Canadian Economic, their chatterwire is the best I’ve used, as I said, it completes with DJ Market Talk and MarketNews Bullet points but its about 1/10 the price with more content. Their main wire is very good for the price and I saw they’ve had exclusive interviews with Dodge (former BoC govenor) and Carney (current), which in Canada is the equivalent of sitting down with Ben Bernanke (I’ll try to find a link).

    Need to Know News is clearly focused on being the fastest to deliver economic news to their clients at “lightning bolt” speed and I know they also started out as a audio squawk service with that same goal. RTTNews is all over the map but they do everything very competently. RTT doesn’t have an audio squawk but there are a few others players in that space also including RAN Squawk and Trade the News. I’ve tried all four of those squawks (Canadian Economic, RAN, TTN and NeedToKnow) and its usually better to have a few of them to complement each other as they all inevitably miss things.

    In terms of the secrecy, given the overtly negative slant you’ve put on your coverage of these wires, I’m frankly not terribly shocked they don’t feel like sitting down and going over their org charts with you. My take is that the more of these wires there are jockeying for eyeballs on trading floors, the less frequently Bloomberg is going to be able to jack their terminal prices (currently about 2800 a month and rising) especially now that Reuters and Thomson have merged which essentially removes a big competitor.

  26. Geoff R, my original interest in CEP arose from my interest in online news ventures. There was no negative slant until they gave me the run-around and behaved very oddly indeed.

    You’ve provided very helpful information but I still don’t see how they can sell the same product as DJ for 1/10th the price. What are the economics of that?

    As for instiutions wanting lots of news sources, you’re right, but big banks and brokerages are also bureaucracies where things take time. Building a clientele doesn’t happen overnight and CEP News seems to have sprung from nowhere.

    What’s more, I’ve talked to sales people at CEP News and they weren’t able to articulate what makes them distinct. In fact, they seemed quite clueless. I can’t imagine they’d impres institutional clients.

    Really, if these are just news services, that interests me too, especially if they’re profitable. Everyone in traditional media is looking for ways to create viable (read profitable) online news products so I’d love to know how these new players are doing it. And, as I said above, that’s how I got started on this story in the first place.

    And finally, if you don’t mind me saying, I’m wondering what brought you to this blog and what your interests are.

  27. Geoff R’s interests are that he works for CEP News, but of course his name’s not really Geoff R.

    And dude, if a plumber offered you to do the job for 10% of the standard cost, wouldn’t you ask him what kind of plumbing business he was running.

  28. of course, anyone talking CEP up so vociferously has to be onside with them. Second, “Geoff R,” their meaning of the word “exclusive” is not the same as that understood by most news services. In fact, some of the more respected sites like the FT regularly get the big names like Trichet or the Dalai Lama and don’t even shout so much, they certainly don’t use the word exclusive. I think you’ll find if you check that when Dodge spoke to CEP,he also spoke to other outlets separately, as did Carney.

  29. Funny, a CEP interview with Carney was written by a guy called Geoff, and the post defending CEP so thoroughly and in such detail, almost as though it were written by someone with inside knowledge of the group, like, say, an employee, was posted not by a Jeff, a Jeffrey, or a Geoffrey, but by someone also called….. Geoff.

  30. A commentator here ‘Geoff R’ says he’s tried four or more chatter squawks from different minor newswires. There must be a hell of a lot of squeaking going on his desktop. Having taken a free trial of CEP News’ chatter, its my opinion that its fairly ordinary and nothing like whats provided by Dow Jones (dont know about Market News). Critically, Dow’s service doesn’t fall silent outside what are perceived as East coast trading hours (depending on subscription type)

    Also DogLady – there is a valid point you made from the onset and few others have commented on it too – the very fact that it helps media co’s (new or established) not to be secretive and build their credibility. CEP haven’t done so. Your blog, its links, speculation about them by yourself and other commentators and the discussion here in general tells me more about them then anything on their corporate website.

    Besides what does this mean: “CEP News is one of Canada’s most established sources for global economic and financial news”

    http://www.economicnews.ca/cepnews/about

    How and on what basis can they make such a bold claim? This in itself invites scrutiny. Neither NeedToKnow nor RTT have made such a claim (at least I could not find it on their respective websites).

  31. Ann, I was just backchecking your posts and I’m wondering, why did you drop brookshire media? They honestly seem about a billion times less legitimate then any of these other wires.

    Their about us is as follows:

    Professional journalists and analysts, dedicated to bringing a unique perspective on world markets and the financial news you need for a deeper understanding of what is happening on a global scale.
    As a financial news resource, DEX.tv gives you accurate and scheduled reports of market events when you want it with seven hours per day of live programming and the daily comprehensive analysis and news you can only find on-line.
    DEXtv prides itself on bringing market reports that are not found on your run-of-the-mill financial news channel. With daily exclusive interviews combined with reports on everything from global to under-the-radar markets, it is no wonder our viewers keep coming back.
    With correspondents spanning the globe, we are where the action is, finding and distilling world events and regional changes that directly impact you.
    There is more to business news than what happens on the eight blocks of Wall Street. Every region, every exchange, every index; we have the in-depth reports you need.

    If you go to the contacts us section it lists http://www.dexteritynews.com which goes nowhere!! Whats the deal? Who owns them, how do they make money, what is the management expertise? Their content is beyond awful!!!! Since your first post, your only update is that “Brookshire never provided the interview despite a second request/” I’m surprised you’re not all over this. Can we get a follow up?

  32. Hmm….Dex.tv

    Looks like we’ve found another one! But hey, in their ‘about us’ section, apart from all the PR waffle, at least they don’t claim to be “one of Canada’s most established sources for global economic and financial news.” That title’s reserved for CEP 🙂

    Also according previous posts its clear who owns them and they didn’t hide it:

    http://www.brookshirerawmaterials.com/

    On the contrary, CEP went to great lengths from what we’ve read to do the opposite. There is one common feature – Ann’s blog again makes an appearance on Dex/Brookshire’s first google search page!

  33. I’ve done a new post on Brookshire Media. Would still like to figure out this Canadian Economic Press (CEP News) story, however.

    C’mon someone’s got to know something. Let’s do some crowd-sourcing.

  34. Ann, why are you all over CEP? You seem to have some kind of vendetta, or jealously issue or something. You just sound like an overall hater of some sorts. If CEP is being secretive or whatever, who really cares? As someone who frequently benefits from CEPs coverage at the Forexfactory site, FOR FREE, I was stunned to find such a hateful (for no reason) article about them. If they have scammed somebody or something then fine, but otherwise stop being so hateful and mean!

  35. Whatever the case is, looking at the prominent names involved is pointless. You won’t get to the bottom of, say Geosign, by looking at Ted Hastings background, since he was brought in for no reason other than to flip the company. Likewise with CEP, it’ll be pointless to look at the publicly identified individuals if you want to know the real story.

  36. Agreed, but it’s been a year now and I can’t find the names of the real people despite lots of looking and some moles. The real people seem to be well hidden and know how to hide.

    I need someone to go rogue.

  37. While some of the musings here are quite interesting, this all strikes me as rather childish, no? Relying on “moles” and calling on bloggers to “go rogue” to dig up information on a startup newswire? Why not just phone up Yahoo Finance, ForexTV or MSN Sympatico, all of which seem to use CEP’s content, and ask them if they have any concerns about dealing with such a “shady” operation?

  38. What are Yahoo finance and MSN going to say?

    It’s pretty obvious to me that some clueless middle manager signed up for the CEP content because it’s free.

    CEP News is using them to look as legit as possible. No answers there.

    Look at the Brookshire example. All sorts of people in the operation had all sorts of info, but they didn’t give it out until their company went belly-up.

    The way I’m going to get this story is if someone spills or if I finally find the right bit of information.

    Otherwise, there’s the IT route, but I need someone more savvy than I am at tech.

    And finally, I like saying going rogue because it reminds me of Jack Bauer.

    Oh, if only I had those CTU databases….

  39. In trying to find out what happened to the CEP Market Recap that I read each day, I came across this blog. Thought you might find it useful to know that CEP seems to have stopped producing articles as of Apr 30…can’t get onto their web site either.

  40. Hi all, just read the mostly mindless drivel left on this site and thought I would jump in to set the record straight on at least one thing. I am the Geoff who wrote the Carney article and am most certainly not the Geoff R who wrote post on this site. And unlike most of you lot if I do have something to say I am quite happy to sign my name to it. Regretably the company has now ceased business but I can say that it was an interesting and dynamic place to work while it lasted and we journalists, from the young to the not-so young, feel grateful for the experience.
    geoff matthews

  41. Quite true Geoff. Agree with what you say, but are we any clearer who bank-rolled CEP and what the business model was?

    I ask cause right up until March they were still posting job vacancies on internet job-sites.

    Best,
    Mark

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