Italy selling off state assets to reduce debt mountain

Portrait of Mario Monti Italian prime minister Mario Monti is struggling to reduce his country's debt mountain

The Italian government hopes to raise 10bn euros (£8.1bn; $12.6bn) selling off three state-owned companies, in a bid to reduce its crippling debt mountain.

Prime Minister Mario Monti described the measures, which include a reduction in the number of state employees, as "very robust".

The companies, Fintecna, Sace and Simsest, are all owned by the country's economy ministry.

More privatisations are likely.

The government is also reducing the size of its military forces and plans to sell off property released by this process.

The property will be put into a fund, then valued and sold to private investors.

In other cost-cutting measures, the government intends to merge some departments and reduce the number of employees.

Italy is in danger of buckling under the weight of its public debt, equal to about 120% of its gross domestic product (GDP).

On Thursday, the Bank of Italy announced that the country's public debt level had reached a record high of 1.95tn euros (£1.57tn).

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