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Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi. Image courtesy of Eni.

Eni suspended plans to sell its $3 billion stake in services player Saipem on Friday, citing “volatile” market conditions.

State owned Eni wanted to unload its 43 percent stake to clear Saipem’s $6.24 billion debt off its books.

Eni planned to use the sale proceeds to grow its upstream presence in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.

The Italian major had reportedly tapped Credit Suisse to serve as its adviser for the sale but had not started talks with any company.

“Recently, market conditions have become increasingly volatile. This has led Eni to put on hold this assessment whilst still confirming the above strategy,” the company said.

In July, Eni introduced a new organizational structure to refocus its efforts on the oil and gas business and curb its presence in the services sector.

Eni said it has started assessing a rang of options for its Saipem stake with an unnamed financial adviser.

The company said it still intends to sell its Saipem stake but has not disclosed a projected timetable to restart the sales process.