Telecom Italia names new chairman


ROME -- Telecom Italia named a new chairman Tuesday, the same day U.S. telecom giant AT&T said it was no longer interested in acquiring control of the former state monopoly and Italian media mogul and former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi reversed course and said he was interested.

The appointment of Pasquale Pistorio, the former chief executive of Franco-Italian semiconductor manufacturer STMicroelectronics, is just the latest development in the soap opera involving Europe's fourth-largest telecommunications company.

Pistorio replaces Guido Rossi, who stepped down last week to help pave the way for Telecom Italia to be sold to a suitor. Pistorio becomes Telecom Italia's third chairman in eight months.

But news of Pistorio's appointment was overshadowed by the announcement earlier in the day that AT&T -- the most noteworthy suitor for the Rome-based company -- was no longer mulling a bid for the company. And a few hours after that, Silvio Berlusconi, Italy's richest citizen, reversed an earlier statement and said he was now interested in acquiring control of Telecom Italia.

Analysts have said that a link between Berlusconi's Mediaset and Telecom Italia would make sense since it would allow the new company to use Mediaset content over Telecom Italia's broadband and mobile device networks.

Without a partner, Telecom Italia said it plans to develop its own content, but the plan is a controversial one that led to the ouster of then-chairman Marco Tronchetti Provera, who stepped down from that post in September 2006 and was replaced by Rossi.

Any Mediaset-Telecom Italia deal would face scores of regulatory hurdles, as competition-related concerns would arise from any proposal linking the country's largest private broadcaster with its largest telecommunications company.