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Salford student entrepreneurs

Salford student entrepreneurs

19/08/2008 The University of Salford in England has won funding to appoint its own Enterprise Champion, who will help to turn the ideas of students and graduates into viable business opportunities.
 
It is one of only five universities in the North West to secure financial backing from the National Council for Graduate Entrepreneurship (NCGE) and North West Development Agency (NWDA).
 
The Enterprise Champion will offer encouragement, guidance and practical support to students and graduates who possess an entrepreneurial streak, enabling them to explore the possibility of turning their ideas into real money-making ventures.
 
Claire MacLean, the University’s Learning, Enterprise and Development Manager, said: “Winning this funding is great news for Salford.  We were told that we put forward an incredibly strong bid.
 
“The University has demonstrated a real commitment to enterprise in the past and this is a chance to turn those ideas into real business opportunities.”
 
The success of Salford design graduates Paul Dawson and Dwain Brandy is proof of the institution’s existing commitment to enterprise.  With the University’s help, the two entrepreneurs have set up their own company – Let Loose Design – which offers quality design and branding to organisations with smaller marketing budgets.
 
As winners of the University’s Enterprise Academy Boot Camp, Paul and Dwain scooped £5,000-worth of business support, including advice from a business mentor and accommodation for their company in the new £9.6m Salford Innovation Forum.
 
The appointment of the Enterprise Champion will ensure the transformation of more students’ concepts into start-up companies.  As with Let Loose, the University will provide early stage incubator facilities, which will cater for enterprise activity across all disciplines.
 
Claire said: “We have a clear focus about what we want to do with the project and that definitely helped us in our bid to secure this funding.”
 
 

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Matalan shamed

Matalan shamed

19/08/2008 The Forum of Private Business (FPB) is naming and shaming the retail giant Matalan, which is imposing a 2% deduction on all payments to suppliers from 1 September 2008. The company intends to use the money it saves to pay for TV advertising, and other marketing and PR activities. The FPB has entered Matalan into its ‘hall of shame’, which identifies companies which seek to cut costs by squeezing their suppliers.
Also at the expense of its suppliers, Matalan plans to expand retail parks, develop international franchises, expand its online business and refurbish stores. Writing on 17 July, the company’s Buying Director, John Lyttle, told the FPB’s members the retailer would impose the charge to fund ‘drive efficiencies’ and prepare for ‘future growth’. Mr Lyttle promised suppliers: “The benefit from the above expansion will generate increased business, and I hope that you will participate in this growth.”
However, the FPB’s Chief Executive, Phil Orford, said that the FPB’s members supplying Matalan would disagree.
“This is not the first time that Matalan has passed on costs to its suppliers and it represents a payment problem that is endemic across a number of industry sectors,” said Mr Orford. “The fact that this latest charge is being justified to fund initiatives like marketing and international expansion adds insult to injury for many smaller firms, which are struggling to control essential costs as the economic downturn continues.”
He added: “I feel sure that many suppliers are already asking why investment can’t be funded by the substantial increase in profits recently announced by Matalan. The FPB took Matalan to task two years ago for imposing a similar charge which, it insisted, was a ‘one-off’. Clearly, Matalan has an ongoing policy of blatant and sustained abuse, using its size and power to make more money at the expense of its supplier base.”
In 2006, the FPB wrote to the Government and Matalan to protest against its imposition of the mandatory ‘supplier discount’, which was also set at 2%. Shortly before, the retailer had posted a pre-tax profit of more than £36 million. In June 2008, Matalan posted a pre-tax profit of £53.2 million; almost double the figure for 2007.
One supplier, Raymond Frankle, of Frankle Trimmings in London, became so frustrated with the 2006 charge that he broke ranks and spoke out, despite fears that Matalan could withdraw its business as a result.
“We didn’t agree to the deduction and very shortly afterwards the company stopped dealing with us,” said Mr Frankle. “It won’t take out new orders, but neither will it pay back the deduction from our 2005 orders. The thing that hurts me the most is seeing its high-profile advertising campaigns and I am not prepared to let my money pay for them.”
He added: “You enter into a contract and deliver the goods, so it is not unreasonable to be expected to be paid for them. Agreement to a change of payment terms should be reached by both parties, not just one.”
It is understood that Matalan does not plan to introduce the latest 2% charge retrospectively, but some of the FPB’s members are concerned that it will apply for goods they have already delivered.
The FPB’s adviser on payments, Stuart Blake, encouraged Matalan’s smaller suppliers to make themselves aware of their rights under law, including those contained in the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act, which came into force in 1998, following a 15-year campaign by the FPB.
“A change to contractual terms cannot be made unilaterally. This is a simple matter of contract law,” he said. “Suppliers receiving underpayment on deliveries made under contracts agreed before the date of this letter will automatically be entitled to interest under the terms of their original contracts or under the LPCD(I) Act and, if their entitlement stems from the LPCD(I) Act, they will be entitled to a late payment penalty charge as well, assuming their contract post-dates August 2002.”
Mr Blake added a note of caution: “Suppliers should be careful about fulfilling orders received after this letter was sent, since to do so may indicate acquiescence, and therefore ‘acceptance’, of the new terms the letter seeks to impose.”
He said suppliers should emphasise to Matalan that they will only provide goods on the original terms agreed, or try to negotiate new terms that are more favourable, but warned that the company has an ‘absolute right’ to place no further orders with them.
The FPB is protesting against the late payment of small firms by large businesses as part of its ‘Think Smallest First’ campaign, in addition to the practice of imposing unilateral changes of payment terms that leave smaller suppliers struggling.
Following a survey of its members, the British Home Enhancement Trade Association (BHETA) found that, while suppliers are facing an average price rise of 18.5% on their products, they are only realising an average price increase from retailers of 5.8%.
“Some members are dealing with price increases of up to 100% on steel products, and anything between 8% and 50% on other types of products,” said Pam Plant, a director of the BHETA. “On average, raw material costs have gone up 11%, energy costs are up 6.5%, labour costs are up 4%, and logistics and distribution costs are up 5% across the board – and retailers still continue to ask for additional support, up, on average, by 2.6%.”

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Finance regulation

Finance regulation

Learning the lessons of finance regulation Economic and Social History at the University of Glasgow has won funding to examine why previous attempts at introducing financial regulation following an economic crisis have failed.   Catherine Schenk, Professor of Economic and Social History has been awarded a substantial grant and a project-linked PhD studentship, together totalling about £490,000 from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) for her project entitled: The Development of International Financial Regulation and Supervision.   The current economic crisis has emphasised the importance of developing a long term perspective on institutional change in order to understand and respond to current and future challenges in the global economic system.   This project will assess the development of international financial regulation by contrasting studies of institutional decision-making in three international financial centres in the late 20th century (from 1961-1982) as the market and regulators responded to a series of challenges and at the same time embarked on a process of liberalisation.   New York, London and Hong Kong offer a range of institutional and political economy contexts in which to examine how regulation was developed, coordinated and applied at both national and multinational levels. In addition to using the archives of central banks, multilateral organisations such as the IMF and Bank for International Settlements, the project will draw on the internal correspondence of international banks and their relations with regulating bodies.   Professor Catherine Schenk, International Economic History said: “Many people have wondered at how the international authorities could have so spectacularly missed the build-up in risky activity in the global financial system over the past 10 years.  In fact, regulators have missed the boat several times in the past with disastrous results, albeit not as bad as the current crisis.     “This project will try to uncover why central banks and international organisations such as the IMF and the BIS failed to deal with excessive risk-taking in international banking in previous crises such as 1974 and 1982.  Hopefully, this will deliver some lessons about how not to repeat these mistakes yet again.”

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Change for German football

Change for German football

BONN, July 24 (Reuters) – The German cartel office said the marketing model for the 2009/10 Bundesliga soccer season TV rights did not meet antitrust standards and would be banned unless changed by German football association DFL.
Thursday’s ruling means the result of the auction for the rights to show Germany’s top Bundesliga games could be delayed.
Pay-TV company Premiere AG, which counts on winning the rights to boost its earnings, said last month it was confident of securing a deal to broadcast Germany’s most popular sport.
The cartel office said it was opposed to a centralised marketing scheme for football rights that lets the DFL strike a deal for all German clubs rather than have each team negotiate a contract.
It said DFL’s proposed amendments had not gone far enough.
“DFL’s new proposal would have certainly worsened basic consumer rights,” cartel office President Bernhard Heitzer said.
The cartel office says games must be broadcast on free TV channels before 8 p.m. in order to reach a large number of viewers. It said the proposed marketing scheme did not adequately address this issue.
Premiere wants games on public television to be shown at 10 p.m. so it does not interfere with Premiere’s live broadcasts.
The cartel office decision is “incomprehensible”, DFL President Reinhard Rauball said, adding that the ruling could lead to a major loss of income for the Bundesliga and that centralised marketing must be allowed in Germany.
The DFL hired media agency Sirius, headed by media tycoon Leo Kirch, to help drum up revenues from the sale. DFL expects to make at least 500 million euros per season selling the rights.
Two analysts who declined to be named said the deal between DFL and Sirius was now effectively dead and that this could be good for Premiere, which could now produce the programme as it saw fit, should it win the contract, and the TV rights would now probably fetch less than previously estimated.
Premiere shares were 4.8 percent higher at 1138 GMT, top gainers in a lower German mid-cap MDAX index.
However, Premiere might find it hard to win new subscribers if matches are shown earlier in the day because they will not be able to broadcast them exclusively.
A Premiere official reiterated that the channel would still bid for the rights and that it could live with matches being shown earlier in the day.
Premiere also shows movies, documentaries, hit drama series such as “Lost”, and pornography, but pay TV is a difficult business in Germany, where customers are used to having over 30 free channels to choose from.
 

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ECB has to fight inflation

ECB has to fight inflation

FRANKFURT, April 17 (Reuters) – The European Central Bank has to actively fight the risk of spiralling wages and prices and ensure interest rates are high enough to curb inflation, German Bundesbank President Axel Weber said on Thursday.
Weber’s deep concern that the ECB does not let current record inflation become a long-term trend reflects similar remarks by Executive Board member Juergen Stark on Tuesday and Cyprus central bank chief Athanasios Orphanides on Thursday.
“Recent wage dynamics in conjunction with elevated and persistent energy and food price pressures have increased the risk of a prolonged period of intolerably high inflation,” the German Bundesbank president told the British Chamber of Commerce in Frankfurt.
The ECB’s staff would take this into account when they revised their inflation outlook in June, Weber said. Inflation was unlikely to fall much below 3 percent until the last two months of 2008, and remain well above 2 percent in 2009.
The ECB aims to keep inflation just below 2 percent over the medium term, but in March — when inflation hit a record 3.6 percent — its staff forecast inflation to average 2.9 percent this year and 2.1 percent in 2009.
Weber was more optimistic about the prospects for financial markets and the euro zone economy. Though markets faced more pain, the worst was probably over, and euro zone growth was unlikely to be hurt as much by the U.S. economic slowdown compared to previous downturns, he said.
The ECB has kept rates on hold at 4 percent since the start of the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis last summer, and in recent weeks the inflation outlook has increasingly caused economists to write off the chances of an ECB rate cut this year.
Weber said it was essential the ECB did not allow higher food and energy costs to feed into other wages and prices.
“Given the costs of curbing such inflation dynamics once they have started, the stability-oriented Eurosystem has to fight the risk of broad-based second-round effects decisively and proactively,” Weber said in a text from the Bundesbank.
“Against this background, we will have to continuously monitor closely all incoming data and evaluate whether the current level of interest rates in fact ensures achieving our objective,” he said.
Last week Weber ruled out cutting rates, and Stark said at the European Parliament on Tuesday that the ECB had to be ready to act decisively to quash second-round effects.
“These are the first remarks which bring out clear concern about wage deals. I don’t think it suggests a rate hike debate, but you wouldn’t want to mention a rate cut to Mr Weber for a while,” said Holger Schmieding, economist at Bank of America.
“A rate cut this year is unlikely but I still think the ECB is too optimistic for growth,” he added.

FX REACTION
The ECB’s close focus on inflation contrasts with that of the U.S. Federal Reserve, which has cut rates by 3 percentage points since the start of the subprime crisis in June and helped drive the euro to a record high against the dollar.
At the weekend the G7 group of top industrialised nations stepped up their criticism of currency volatility, but the euro has still chalked-up fresh records against the dollar.
Jean-Claude Juncker, Luxembourg’s prime minister and the chairman of monthly meetings between euro zone finance ministers and the ECB, said on Thursday that markets had not taken on board the G7’s message, causing the euro to fall.
Weber, asked about Juncker’s remarks, said only that the G7 statement spoke for itself.
But he went into more detail about the turmoil which has wracked global financial markets since last summer.
“Adjustment processes in global financial markets are far from over and … they will continue to be painful. But some positive signs are also emerging now indicating that the worst may be behind us,” he said.
Financial markets were exerting a pro-cyclical effect on the world economy, exaggerating booms and busts, making it even more important to quickly put in place new regulations proposed at the G7 meeting of major industrialised democracies last weekend.
The ECB would also continue its policy of lending extra funds to money markets for as long as tensions persist to try to restore confidence, Weber said, noting that an auction of funds scheduled for July would provide finance out to 2009.
Overall though, Europe’s economy was still in good shape, even if growth this year and next would be somewhat below potential, Weber said.
“For the euro area and Germany, the economic outlook is still favourable.” German GDP had probably grown by about 0.75 percent in the first three months of the year, he added.

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EU approves Mars buy of Wrigley

EU approves Mars buy of Wrigley

BRUSSELS, July 28 (Reuters) – M&M’s candy maker Mars Inc of the United States won unconditional permission from the European Commission on Monday to purchase the U.S. No. 1 chewing gum manufacturer Wm Wrigley Jr Co for $23 billion.
“There is no overlap in the parties’ core confectionery activities (chocolate and gum),” the Commission said in a statement.
“Although both parties are active in sugar confectionery, the limited market shares do not give rise to competition concerns,” the European Union executive added.
The deal, which billionaire Warren Buffett helped to finance, would create the world’s largest confectionery company. Mars is privately held.
“The Commission also concluded that there is no risk that the joint entity could use the strong market position Wrigley currently enjoys on the gum markets to gain an unfair advantage over their competitors through foreclosure of chocolate markets,” the executive said.
The deal will give Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc a stake of more than 10 percent in Wrigley, which will become a separate Mars subsidiary.
Buffett’s other food holdings include a stake in Kraft Foods Inc.
Aside from Berkshire, financing for the Wrigley deal is being provided by Goldman Sachs Group and JPMorgan Chase & Co, Mars said in a statement when the deal was announced.
The combined companies would have a major presence in the global chocolate, gum and candy businesses.
Wrigley has brands such as Extra and Eclipse, while privately held Mars is known for its M&M’s, Snickers, Starburst and Twix.
 

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Bedford College Open day

Bedford College Open day

Bedford college offers a variety of courses to enhance your career prospects for a career in business and offer programmes at various levels. We also have Access courses and Business Administration apprenticeships. You may also like to consider our GCSEs or A Levels in Law and Government and Politics, or our part-time evening courses in Marketing (including courses from the Chartered Institute of Marketing), Management (including courses from the Chartered Management Institute) & Accountancy (including courses from the Association of Accounting Technicians).
Whether you are leaving school, an international student, interested in degree-level courses, want to study part-time to improve your job prospects, or would just like to take up a new activity, we want you to understand what it is that makes Bedford College such a great place to study.
We would love to welcome you to one of our Open Days. They are held at the Cauldwell Street site, the Plumbing Technology Centre and the Vehicle Training Centre between 2pm and 8pm.Next open day takes place on 26th January 2011Click here for more information

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Ethiopia aims to earn $200 mln from tourism

Ethiopia aims to earn $200 mln from tourism

ADDIS ABABA, Aug 6 (Reuters) – Ethiopia hopes to boost tourism earnings 15 percent to $200 million this year, the government said on Wednesday.
“Tourist flow into Ethiopia has shown a marked improvement over the last five years,” said Solomon Ali, head of public relations at the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
“That is due to publicity campaigns aimed at changing the country’s image from the stereotypical picture of famine and war to a nation of ancient history and culture.”
Solomon said Ethiopia hopes to attract 400,000 tourists this year, up from 340,000 in 2007 when it earned $170 million.
The country hopes to trade on its reputation as the cradle of humankind, and the government has invested heavily in hotels, airports and other infrastructure to lure visitors.
Much of the focus has been on historic sites in the north, which include the obelisks at Axum — reputed to be the home of the Biblical Queen of Sheba — the stunning rock-hewn churches of Lalibella and several ancient castles.
Many tourists also visit Afar in the far northeast of the country to see the site where “Lucy”, the fossilised bones of a 3.2 million-year-old hominid, was discovered.
Solomon said Lucy’s remains were currently on a six-year tour of museums in the United States, and officials hoped this would create more interest in Ethiopia. Some Ethiopians, however, worry that the fragile bones may not survive the tour.

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Labour cuts income taxes

Labour cuts income taxes

LONDON, May 13 (Reuters) – Britain’s embattled Labour government trimmed income taxes for 22 million people on Tuesday, as soaring food and fuel bills sent inflation rocketing and dented hopes for more interest rate cuts soon.
Higher household bills are creating a headache for increasingly unpopular Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the tax handout came after Labour came third in this month’s local elections — its worst post-war performance on record.
“This family tax cut provides support this year for those on middle incomes at a time where they face increased bills,” finance minister Alistair Darling told parliament as he unveiled the surprise tax cuts.
Ordinary tax payers will get an extra 120 pounds this year and Darling said it would be paid for by a 2.7 billion pound ($5.4 billion) increase in government borrowing, putting further pressure on already tight public finances.
The move was meant to compensate some 5.3 million low-paid people who lost out when the government scrapped a 10 percent income tax band, but went beyond in a dramatic push to woo the voters Labour needs to win the next election due by May 2010.
It was also designed to avoid a humiliating defeat in a parliamentary vote on the budget as Labour rebels made common cause with legislators from other parties on the compensation issue.
This would have compounded Brown’s problems ahead of a key parliamentary by-election next week which polls suggest could result in a gain for the resurgent opposition Conservatives.
The 10 percent tax row, together with concerns over rising food and energy bills and falling house prices, was blamed for the Labour local election rout.
Another headache for the government came as data on Tuesday showed that a record rise in food prices and soaring energy bills helped push inflation up half a percentage point to 3 percent in April, the biggest jump since 2002.
That inflation shock left the rate way above the central bank’s 2 percent target and all but scotched analyst forecasts for a rate cut in June — pushing sterling up and stocks down.
Most economists had thought a June cut was pretty much a done deal as the British economy is slowing because of a global credit crunch and a gridlocked housing market.
Bank of England Governor Mervyn King is now only a tenth of a percentage point away from having to write to Darling to explain how he plans to rein in prices — as required by law if inflation exceeds the target by more than a point.

HOUSING MARKET SUFFERS
There was bad news on the fragile housing market on Tuesday. The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors’ (RICS) house price survey posted its worst reading since it started 30 years ago.
Britain’s housing minister also warned in notes she presented to cabinet on Tuesday that the government had no idea how bad the market could get and annual price falls of up to 10 percent were possible this year.
“The dilemma facing the Monetary Policy Committee just keeps getting worse,” said Michael Saunders, economist at Citigroup.
“On one side, the credit crunch and housing collapse threaten to slow consumer spending and the economy sharply … on the other side, strong global cost pressures, the weak pound and surging inflation expectations threaten to produce an extended overshoot of the inflation target.”
Markets are awaiting the BoE’s quarterly inflation report, which will also contain growth forecasts, on Wednesday. The central bank has cut rates three times since the credit crunch hit but the outlook will depend on how much policymakers think slower growth will bring down inflation in the medium term.
While soaring commodity prices around the world — oil hit a record high on Monday — suggest inflation could rise further, the latest data also showed some retailers cutting prices aggressively as they tried to cope with lacklustre demand.
Tuesday’s RICS survey painted a bleak picture for the housing market where prices have started falling after years of double-digit growth as cash-strapped lenders make it harder for people to take out home loans.
Housebuilders are rattled. Redrow Plc and Galliford Try Plc both issued profit warnings on Tuesday. Many analysts are now predicting house prices could go down 10 percent this year.
Yet the less scope the BoE has to cut interest rates, the harder it will be for the market to get back on its feet.
“A dramatic deterioration in inflation prospects during April may be forcing the Bank of England into a corner,” said Matthew Sharratt, economist at Bank of America.
“The worse than expected inflation data in April now implies a serious risk that the next 25 basis point cut, that we had thought would come in June, may now be delayed until August.”

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Somali pirates rich with ransoms from hijacking

Somali pirates rich with ransoms from hijacking

BOSASSO, Somalia, Aug 6 (Reuters) – Somali pirates are investing heavily in trafficking the narcotic khat, along with other businesses, as they seek to spend big profits from ransom payments after months of attacks.
Maritime officials say at least 26 ships have been hijacked off the coast of the Horn of Africa country so far this year.
Most of them brought ransoms of at least $10,000, and in some cases much more. A lot of that money is now in the hands of pirates in the semi-autonomous northern region of Puntland.
Siyad Mohamed and his gang recently shared a $750,000 ransom after releasing a German ship they seized in May. Mohamed said they decided to invest in trafficking khat, a mild narcotic leaf that is very popular in the region.
“We’ve started importing,” Mohamed told Reuters by telephone from Garowe, Puntland’s capital.
“We bought it from Kenya after normal supplies dwindled due to delays. We saw an opportunity and took it.”
Mohamed said he earned $75,000 from the German ransom, a large amount in such a poor region.
“We work in three groups. One group is at sea now looking for ships to hijack. The other two, including mine, are next in line. We all share the ransom money,” the 30-year-old former fisherman said. “Fellow pirates get free khat supply.”
Banned in many Western countries, khat is a flowering plant that is native to east Africa and the Arabian Peninsula and is believed to have originated in Ethiopia. Users, mostly men, chew the fresh leaves to get a mild amphetamine-like high.
Other pirates have benefited even more from the trade. And residents of Garowe and Bosasso, Puntland’s other main town, say most of the hijackers are well known.
Following this year’s sharp increase in attacks at sea, the wealthy pirates have attained near-celebrity status in the area, building palatial beach villas and other buildings, cruising around town in expensive cars and marrying additional wives.
VILLAS, CARS AND GIRLS
Some residents expect them to take over more local businesses soon, and say that gangs threaten local authorities and can pay for impunity — further worsening security in one of Africa’s most lawless corners.
Piracy has flourished in Somalia since warlords overthrew Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991, plunging the country into chaos.
But it has reached unprecedented levels since the start of last year.
Among the most recent victims are a German couple who were abducted in June and are still being held by Puntland gunmen demanding a $2 million ransom. Most of the pirates treat hostages well in the hope of a good pay-off.
And experts say hijackers are getting bolder.
“They have gained experience and hijack big ships that fetch them good money,” said Andrew Mwangura, a maritime official based in Kenya. “They are getting smarter and smarter.”
The pirates typically use speedboats, normally dropped from bigger “mother ships”. The hijackers then use the faster craft to intercept commercial vessels before boarding them brandishing assault rifles, and sometimes rocket-propelled grenades.
Locals in Puntland say there will be no shortage of new recruits as long as gangs reap the rewards.
Jama Shino, another pirate, recently threw one of Garowe’s most lavish weddings for years. Hundreds of guests attended as the 35-year-old father-of-two married his second wife.
“We don’t fear the government. Girls here are not afraid of us. They love us because we have lots of money so they really want to marry us,” Shino said with a grin.
Rodo Abdullahi, a 19-year-old who attended last week’s party, said it was every local girl’s dream to have such a grand wedding, But she said only pirates now had the funds to do it.
“If I marry a man who doesn’t have enough money, he cannot organise such a big wedding,” she told Reuters.
“That is why girls here prefer to be married to pirates.”