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(June 13, 2001) MONTREAL -- The Montreal International Fireworks Competition, Canada's oldest and largest major fireworks competition which draws entries from countries worldwide, has a new name and sponsor after 17 years.

The Societe des alcools du Quebec (SAQ), the state corporation responsible for the distribution and marketing of alcoholic beverages in Quebec, has taken over the event, agreeing to a minimum five-year contract, supplanting Benson & Hedges, which had to be replaced following the Canadian government's clampdown on advertising and sponsorship by tobacco companies.

The SAQ's financial investment was not announced, but the newly named Le Mondial SAQ has received a grant from the Societe des evenements majeurs internationaux du Quebec, a government organization with the aim of ensuring stability and growth in international entertainment events, to make up for a loss of revenue resulting from the end of tobacco-related sponsorship.

The grant of $1.6 million will be spread over three years and used to enhance the fireworks event's regional and national profile, and to consolidate its promotional efforts abroad.

This year's competition of musical pyrotechnic shows will include entries from eight countries including, for the first time, Taiwan.

Copyright June 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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