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Romani Sworn in as Italian Industry Minister After Scajola Exit

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Oct. 5 (Bloomberg) -- Italian Industry Minister Paolo Romani, a former television executive, took office yesterday five months after his predecessor resigned amid a real-estate investigation.

Romani, 63, previously communications undersecretary, was sworn in last night in Rome by President Giorgio Napolitano, according to a statement on the head of state’s website. The ministry had been led by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi since May 4, when Claudio Scajola stepped down amid allegations of possible impropriety in the purchase of an apartment near Rome’s Coliseum.

“Romani has a lot of experience in communications,” Senator Anna Finocchiaro of the opposition Democratic Party said in a statement. “But he doesn’t know much about labor relations.”

Milan-born Romani will oversee negotiations between Fiat SpA, Italy’s biggest manufacturer, and labor unions that have protested the Turin-based company’s plans to lift productivity. He will also play a role in government efforts to restore nuclear power after Italy’s atomic plants were shut down and dismantled following a 1987 referendum.

Fiat negotiators are meeting with unions in Rome today. Guglielmo Epifani, leader of the Italy’s biggest union CGIL, called on Romani to begin work immediately to “resolve the 140 disputes” the union has brought before the ministry, Ansa news agency reported.

Before going into politics in 1994 with Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party, Romani spent much of his career as an executive in private television in Milan. He also had a stint as a reporter covering the fall of Romania’s Nicolae Ceausescu and the war in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s, according to his page on the government’s website.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jeffrey Donovan at jdonovan26@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Fraher at jfraher@bloomberg.net

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