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A sterically shielded cationic NHC gold complex IPr**Au–BArF24 without solvent coordination has been prepared in situ in CH2Cl2. The monovalent transition metal electrophile, a “soft proton”, heterolytically activates the C–B bond of the weakly coordinating counterion tetrakis[3,5-bis(trifluoromethyl)phenyl]borate at room temperature.
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