Romano Prodi, chairman of Italy's state-owned IRI, offered his resignation in late May in the face of a $6.4 billion loss, much larger than anticipated. The company continues to wallow in debt, as high as $47 billion, with major losses in its steel and construction units.
The former professor has also clashed with the government of Silvio Berlusconi. Presiding over the privatization of state-run banks, he charged that the Milan-based bank, Mediobanca, which took control of two of the largest banking groups on the block, had gathered too much power. Mediobanca also handles Berlusconi's vast business dealings.