LONDON - British telecoms group Vodafone said Wednesday it had agreed to sell its majority stake in its Egyptian unit to Saudi Telecom Company for $2.4 billion.
"This transaction is consistent with our efforts to simplify the group to two differentiated, scaled geographic regions -- Europe and sub-Saharan Africa," Vodafone chief executive Nick Read said in a statement.
He added that the cash sale for the 55-percent holding in Vodafone Egypt would additionally reduce group debt and unlock value for Vodafone shareholders.
STC, in which the state holds a 70-percent stake, said in a statement in Riyadh that the deal is non-binding and the final price of the stake will be determined upon signing a definitive agreement.
"The potential acquisition of Vodafone Egypt is in line with our expansion strategy in the MENA region," STC CEO Nasser al-Nasser said.
"The transaction, which is still subject to detailed due diligence, confirms STC's eagerness to maintain a leadership position" in the region, he said.
STC is the largest Arab telecom firm in terms of market value with a capitalisation of $49 billion.
It has operations in Kuwait, Bahrain and Malaysia.
Vodafone Egypt is the leading player in the Egyptian mobile market and serves over 40 million customers.
Vodafone's share price was up 0.4 percent at 157.28 pence following the announcement, while STC was trading 0.7 percent down.