Rossi steps down from Telecom Italia

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ROME -- Embattled Telecom Italia chief Guido Rossi resigned Friday in a move that could set the stage for the company to be taken over and likely will cast its plan to become an online media player in doubt.

Rossi was appointed last year after a shake-up involving plans to sell off the company's profitable cellular phone business forced then-chairman Marco Tronchetti Provera out the door. Rossi decided against selling the mobile phone unit but vowed to continue with the plan to develop content to distribute over Internet TV.

Over time, leading lights in the company grew less enamored with the plans, and Pirelli -- the tire company headed by Tronchetti Provera that is Telecom Italia's largest shareholder -- said last month that it wanted to sell its shares.

That set the stage for several companies -- including AT&T, Mexican telecom America Movil, France Telecom and Silvio Berlusconi's Mediaset -- to express interest in taking over the former Italian telecommunications monopoly. Rossi said he was against such a deal.

All the companies that have expressed interest in Telecom Italia, with the exception of Mediaset, have said they would "re-evaluate" the company's Internet TV plans.

Deputy chairman Carlo Buora will take Rossi's place for the interim.
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