Saudi operator STC paused talks with banks regarding a $2 billion financial package to cover an acquisition of Vodafone Group’s Egyptian business due to disruption caused by the Covid-19 (coronavirus), Bloomberg reported.

Sources told the news agency STC remains keen to acquire the UK-headquartered group’s 55 per cent stake in Vodafone Egypt, after the pair brokered a $2.4 billion deal in late January. But, Bloomberg explained, a subsequent weakening in global economies caused by the pandemic had seen STC put talks regarding a debt-based finance package put on ice.

The news agency stated STC had been negotiating a $2 billion funding agreement with banks, which could recommence at a later date. The operator is also exploring other financing options, Bloomberg added.

Vodafone Egypt is the country’s largest operator with more than 40 million mobile connections at the end of 2019, GSMA Intelligence figures showed.

While the companies aimed to close the deal by end-June, Telecom Egypt, which holds the remaining 45 per cent stake in Vodafone Egypt, in February revealed the nation’s Financial Regulatory Authority was not keen to approve any deal which did not see STC take a 100 per cent stake.