GHENT, Belgium - Shareholders of Fortis approved the sale of assets to France's BNP Paribas in Belgium on Tuesday, bringing the carve-up of the stricken group a step closer to conclusion.

In the first of two planned meetings, 72.99 percent of shareholders in the Belgian city of Ghent voted in favour of BNP Paribas's purchase of a 75 percent stake in Fortis Bank, the Belgian banking business now in state hands.

A majority of votes at a second meeting in the Dutch city of Utrecht on Wednesday would be required for the deal to be approved. The outcome there should be similar given shareholders can vote at both meetings. (Reporting by Antonia van de Velde)