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Last Updated: Monday, 5 September 2005, 17:11 GMT 18:11 UK
Italy bank chief 'will not quit'
Bank of Italy Governor Antonio Fazio
Mr Fazio is under pressure from government ministers to step down
Bank of Italy governor Antonio Fazio has no plans to resign, despite growing pressure from government ministers, a central bank spokesman has said.

Top Italian officials, including Deputy Prime Minister Giulio Tremonti and Economy Minister Domenico Siniscalco, have called for Mr Fazio to step down.

Mr Fazio has been accused of favouring an Italian bank in a cross-border bid battle. He denies any wrongdoing.

A bank spokesman told Reuters Mr Fazio had "no intention of resigning".

The spokesman said Mr Fazio planned to attend a meeting of European central bank governors in Manchester, England, on Friday and Saturday.

'Follow your conscience'

Italy's economy minister said over the weekend that he expected Mr Fazio to "do the sensible thing" and step down after reforms of the Bank of Italy were agreed.

Mr Siniscalco's comments followed a similar call from Italy's deputy prime minister.

However, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has yet to add his voice to those calling for Mr Fazio's resignation, saying only that the embattled governor should "follow his conscience".

The demands for Mr Fazio's resignation follow controversy over the central bank's handling of Banca Popolare Italiana's takeover bid for Italian rival Antonveneta.

The bid - which faced a rival offer from Dutch bank ABN Amro - was approved by Mr Fazio after he reportedly overruled a number of senior regulators who expressed concerns about its viability, prompting critics to accuse him of favouritism.

On Friday, Italy's cabinet took steps to improve the image of the central bank by approving a package of reforms.

Under the measures, which have yet to win parliamentary approval, the tenure of the Bank of Italy's governor will be reduced to seven years - in line with other European central banks.

However, the new rule will not apply to Mr Fazio who, under the current system, has his job for life.

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