* Chmn under investigation in corruption probe at group
* He says govt did not ask him to step down
* La Repubblica daily quotes govt source saying “he is out”
MILAN, Nov 24 (Reuters) - Pier Francesco Guarguaglini, the embattled chairman of Italian defence group Finmeccanica , which is at the centre of a corruption probe, told an Italian daily on Thursday he would not resign.
Guarguaglini told Il Fatto Quotidiano that Italy’s newly appointed government, which is Finmeccanica’s biggest shareholder, with a 32 percent stake, had not asked him to quit.
“(Prime Minister Mario Monti’s Chief of Staff Antonio) Catricala did not ask me to resign, and nobody in the government is pressuring me in this respect,” Guarguaglini was quoted as saying in the paper.
On Tuesday, Monti said he was closely watching the situation at Finmeccanica and expected “a rapid and responsible solution”.
But Guarguaglini said “Monti’s comment was only a quip. Nobody asked to see me, I asked to meet the chief of staff. Everyone says I am resisting. Nobody understands I‘m only trying to see what’s best for my company.”
Several Italian newspapers said Finmeccanica’s board would meet at the latest by next week to take away Guarguaglini’s operational powers.
Finmeccanica board member Dario Galli said on Wednesday a board meeting would take appropriate measures in the next few days when asked if Guarguaglini would go.
“He’s out,” la Repubblica wrote in its Thursday edition, quoting government sources.
The probe, centering on accusations of false invoices and slush funds allegedly used to bribe politicians, has grown into the first big test for Italy’s new technocrat government, which was sworn in last week.
Both Guarguaglini and his wife Marina Grossi, who is chief executive of Finmeccanica subsidiary Selex Sistemi Integrati, are under investigation as part of the probe.
Both deny any wrongdoing. Guarguaglini said in a statement on Tuesday he had “never created illegal funds nor has he ever paid or ordered anyone to pay money to politicians or political parties”.
He told Il Fatto Quotidiano he had been notified in July that Rome Prosecutor Paolo Ielo was investigating him.
At the weekend, Guarguaglini’s right-hand man Lorenzo Borgogni stepped aside after being put under investigation.
Earlier this month, Guarguaglini did not chair the board meeting that signed off Finmeccanica’s nine-month results, which showed a net loss due to writedowns and sent its shares down 20 percent.
By 0848 GMT shares in Finmeccanica were up 3 percent, outperforming a 1 percent gain in Italy’s blue-chip FTSE MIB stock index. (Reporting by Valentina Za; Editing by Will Waterman)