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Stella Artois ends 30-year tennis sponsorship

LONDON - Stella Artois has decided to end its sponsorship of the pre-Wimbledon grass court Artois Championships after this summer's tournament, following 30 years of branding the Queen's Club event.

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The 2008 Artois Grass Court Championships, taking place at the Queen's Club on June 9-15, will be the last to carry the Artois name.

The Lawn Tennis Association will begin searching for a new sponsor and is expected to give further details on its events and commercial strategy in April. The organisation claims it wants to boost investment in British tennis by finding a sponsor to support a wide range of activities rather than just one tournament.

Robert Draper, LTA chief executive, said: "As part of our new commercial strategy we are looking to market the sport as a complete package, rather than as a series of individual events and programmes.

"Once we explained this new approach, ourselves and InBev both agreed that now is an appropriate time for a change."

Stuart MacFarlane, president of InBev UK, said: "The LTA's decision to expand the sponsorship deal just no longer fitted with our own strategic vision for the brand and so we have, very amicably, agreed to go our separate ways."

Last month, Richard Evans stepped down as chief executive of InBev UK and Ireland after 14 years with the company. He was replaced by Stuart MacFarlane, formerly InBev's global director of customer standards.

Evans' departure followed news that InBev was planning to axe its Bock brand from the Artois range and replace it with Eiken Artois, its new premium lager.

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