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BT confirmed today that Italian mobile company Blu has withdrawn from the bidding for the third generation mobile licences in Italy.

The collapse follows failure to agree with fellow shareholders on how to proceed with the bidding - reports suggest that other members thought BT should shoulder more responsibility, as it is a telco itself.

The Blu consortium is lead by the Benetton family-controlled Autostrade, holding 32 per cent. BT holds a 21 per cent stake.

BT said it was willing to support the bid to a higher level, and agreed in principle that it should have a larger stake in the venture, but said that it could not shoulder as much of the risk as the rest of the group had wanted.

The move comes as a blow to the Italian government as now there are only five bidders left to "compete" for the five licences.

The government had hoped to raise around E21 billion from the sale, but dismissed suggestions that it would have to restructure its budget following the auction's collapse. ®

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