STC extended the negotiation period for plans to acquire Vodafone Group’s business in Egypt for a second time, pointing to challenges stemming from the Covid-19 (coronavirus).

In a statement, the Saudi Arabia-headquartered operator announced a 60-day delay, citing “logistical challenges” caused by the outbreak, and explaining the companies needed more time to complete due diligence and other procedures.

STC said it initially extended the discussions on 13 April by 90 days after facing challenges from the pandemic.

Covid-19 also reportedly led to STC halting talks with banks about a $2 billion financial package for the acquisition.

The planned deal involves STC acquiring Vodafone’s 55 per cent stake in Vodafone Egypt.

Agreement for the sale was reached in January, when Vodafone announced it will trade its stake in its Egyptian operations to STC for $2.4 billion, in line with plans to reduce debt and refocus on core markets.

Vodafone Egypt is the largest operator in the country with more than 40.3 million mobile connections at end-Q2, data from GSMA Intelligence showed.