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CMGI confident AltaVista will float

May need water wings though

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AltaVista is still planning to float its operation despite this week's embarrassing revelation that the Net company's ISP in Britain never got off the ground.

Speaking to The Register, Sam Sethi, European Marketing Director for CMGI, said: "We're still planning to IPO either later this year or in the first quarter 2001 - depending on market conditions."

While he admitted that the revelations of the last couple of weeks had been damaging to the company, he didn't believe they were terminal.

AltaVista is a majority-owned operating company of CMGI. The search engine-cum-ISP delayed an IPO in April due to unfavourable market conditions.

Sethi also backed Andy Mitchell, the MD of AltaVista in the UK and Ireland. So far, Mitchell has taken much of the flack for the AltaVista debacle. Some industry watchers have said it can only be a matter of time before Mitchell parachutes out of the company.

But Sethi doesn't agree. "People will understand the commercial reasons why the service has been postponed," he said.

And asked if the whole episode could have been handled better, he said: "It has been unfortunate that the clarity of AV's position has not been brought forward as quickly as it should have been.

But he stressed: "Consumers will understand why AV took the decision it did, and that it was based on commercial reality." ®

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