A businessman frustrated and frightened after years of threats by the Mafia has closed his agricultural machinery factory, throwing 100 men out of work, officials said.

Guiseppe De Masi, 58, made the decision after a powerful bomb believed planted by the underworld destroyed his holiday villa, police said.The padlocking of De Masi Agricoltura is a blow to the poor southern Italian city of Rizziconi, where unemployment is running at 30 percent.

The City Council has scheduled a meeting for Sunday to discuss the situation in the Mafia-plagued region, an extraordinary move.

"I'm sure they wanted to kill me, but luckily I wasn't there," De Masi said after the blast that destroyed his home.

Police said that De Masi's thriving factory, which produces farm machinery, has been the target of extortionists for years. But the owner has not paid up, they said.

"I can't live like this," De Masi said after men who reported for work after Christmas found the factory gates locked. "If we must take the underworld's wishes into account when running our business, that is too much.

"I don't hide the fact, I've been beaten by the Mafia."