Italian Premier Romano Prodi insisted that he didn't meddle in a restructuring plan at Telecom Italia, saying his government had only expressed hope that the company would remain under Italian control, an Associated Press report said.
Prodi while speaking to the Italian Senate, said that in talks with then-Telecom Italia chairman Marco Tronchetti Provera, he was only told of a possible partnership with Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. and not of a plan to separate the company's fixed-line and mobile phone businesses, according to the Associated Press report.
'I was never informed of any plan on Telecom Italia,' the premier said.
Once told of the possible Murdoch deal 'the government limited itself to expressing hope that control of the country's most important telecommunications company would remain in Italian hands,' he was quoted as saying.
The Associated Press report said the separation plan that the Telecom Italia board later approved was seen by many as paving the way for the sale of the company's mobile unit and raised fears that TIM, the only mobile phone company operating in Italy that is under Italian control, would end up in foreign hands.
The public spat led to Tronchetti Provera's resignation just days after announcing the reorganization plan on September 11. He has been replaced by Guido Rossi, who ran the telecom group in the late 1990s and has indicated he intends to go ahead with the reorganization, the report said.
Provera has repeatedly hit back at Prodi for denying knowledge of the plan, the report added.