AltaVista takes partner’s chief

The US-owned Internet search engine AltaVista is to hire DoubleClick.co.uk’s founding chief to lead an assault on the UK market, despite a global “no poaching” agreement between the two companies.

Andy Mitchell, who was appointed by US-owned DoubleClick to launch its successful UK advertising sales service two and-a-half years ago, is to join AltaVista as UK managing director.

He joins four weeks after the service’s UK launch as part of AltaVista’s European assault, which includes the launch of dedicated sites in France, Germany and Sweden.

A DoubleClick spokeswoman says it has a replacement lined up and is agreeing terms. The company is poised to announce a number of senior management appointments.

The “no poaching” personnel agreement was struck when Alta-Vista signed a three-year deal for DoubleClick to represent its interests in ad sales negotiations on a global basis.

DoubleClick International president Barry Salzman says: “I had to create an exemption for Mitchell to speak to AltaVista, but his appointment is in his best interests, as well as AltaVista and DoubleClick’s UK interests.

Mitchell joined DoubleClick in 1997 as its first UK employee following a career in advertising, during which he helped to launch digital communications projects for Ogilvy & Mather.

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