Pakistan’s central bank gave in-principle approval for local provider MCB Bank to conduct due diligence on the purchase of a majority stake in Telenor’s mobile financial services unit in the country.

The development was disclosed in a short statement to the Pakistan Stock Exchange. MCB Bank also noted it had already received the green light from its board to begin the process towards the purchase of Telenor’s 55 per cent stake in Telenor Microfinance Bank Limited.

In November 2021 the mobile operator announced it was assessing potential buyers for the stake, as MCB Bank disclosed its interest. However, Telenor noted there was no guarantee a sale would take place.

Telenor holds the majority share of the mobile financial services business with the remainder held by Ant Group, which owns mobile payments giant Alipay in China alongside various other international assets.

Following Telenor’s announcement it was assessing a sale, Ant Group reiterated its support for Telenor Microfinance Bank.