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Last Updated: Monday, 18 September 2006, 07:10 GMT 08:10 UK
Phone firm row hits Prodi adviser
Telecom Italia building
Telecom Italia announced the possible split last week
An adviser to Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi has resigned over a political row centred on Italy's main phone company Telecom Italia.

Angelo Rovati's departure comes after Telecom Italia said on Friday that it was to split its fixed-line and TIM mobile units into two separate firms.

Mr Prodi, who opposes the move, said last week that he had no prior knowledge of the firm's decision.

Yet a leaked note by Mr Rovati appeared to show Mr Prodi did know of the plan.

'Foreign takeover fear'

Mr Rovati's departure from the government comes after Telecom Italia's controlling shareholder, Marco Tronchetti, stepped down as chairman of the firm on Friday after clashing with Mr Prodi over its future.

Mr Tronchetti backs the split plan.

Telecom Italia is Europe's fifth-biggest telecoms company, while TIM is the country's last Italian-owned mobile phone network.

Mr Prodi is said to be against any sale of its TIM mobile phone arm, as he does not want it to fall into foreign hands.

Reports have suggested that rival European telecoms firms including France Telecom, Deutsche Telekom, and Spain's Telifonica - as well as US private equity firm The Carlyle Group - could be interested in buying TIM.

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