The appointment of a Nippon Steel executive, Hayao Nakamura, to head state-owned ILVA, Europe's second-largest steel group, comes as a jolt to the country's huge public sector. The decision by ILVA's parent, industrial holding company IRI, is a signal that the government is serious about privatization efforts. Nakamura's job will be to try to salvage ILVA, which is on the verge of bankruptcy, with $5.7 billion in debt and $1.2 billion in losses reported in the first 11 months of last year.

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