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Highfield quits Kangaroo

Ashley Highfield is standing down as CEO of the UK’s beleaguered online catch-up service Project Kangaroo, the initiative’s joint-venture partners BBC Worldwide, ITV and Channel 4 have announced.

Highfield (left) is taking up the position of MD and VP of consumer and online at Microsoft UK, reporting to John Mangelaars, VP of consumer and online, EMEA. Consumer and online is a newly established Microsoft division that brings together consumer-facing products and services across PC, mobile and internet platforms.

Highfield will be based in London, and will be responsible for driving sales, marketing, content and programming, business development, partner efforts and operations for Windows and related sub-divisions Windows Mobile, Windows Live, MSN, Live Search and Microsoft Advertising.

At Kangaroo, Rod Henwood has been appointed interim CEO, supported by Mark Kortekaas as chief technology officer and Christine Mullin as chief financial officer. Both Henwood and the projects shareholders are now actively recruiting a new CEO.

Henwood is currently lead regulatory advisor at Kangaroo and was previously new business director of Channel 4. Kortekaas was previously senior VP and chief technology officer for CBS Interactive in the US, while Mullin recently worked in private equity and was previously finance director of AOL UK.

Ben McOwen Wilson, chairman of the Kangaroo joint venture, said: “We would like to thank Ashley for leading Project Kangaroo through a crucial stage in its development, and we wish him well for the future.

“In Rod, Mark and Christine we are confident that we have a management team of strength and depth that can deliver an outstanding product for UK consumers and advertisers and will continue the ongoing priority of working with the Competition Commission through its process.”

The move comes as yet another setback for the joint venture. It is currently under investigation from the UK’s Competition Commission, with a verdict due on February 6, and Highfield’s departure follows that of Patrick Ugeux, ITV’s director of Project Kangaroo, whose exit C21 revealed in August.

Highfield said: “It has been a great pleasure and challenge to take Project Kangaroo to the next stage of its journey. It is something I believe passionately in and I will remain a great ambassador for the project from afar as it continues on the road to becoming a brilliant proposition for consumers in this exciting market.

“However, I was presented with an amazing opportunity that I couldn’t turn down, and I am looking forward to embarking on my new challenge, while wishing everyone at the project continued success.”

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