South Africa's Standard Bank said on Monday a majority of shareholders had approved the acquisition of a 20 percent stake in the group by China's biggest lender ICBC for $5.6 billion.

The scheme of arrangement ... has been approved by the requisite majority of votes at the scheme meeting held today, Monday, 3 December 2007, the firm said in a statement.

Standard Bank said an application would be made to the High Court of South Africa on Dec 18 for an order sanctioning the scheme.

Last month, the firm said it expected incremental earnings of $160-$200 million from the deal with Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC).

Jacko Maree, Standard Bank Chief Executive Officer, said the group would keep almost all the proceeds of the transaction outside South Africa, pending exchange control approval.

We will try to keep almost all the money that we can outside of South Africa because it is earmarked for growth in Africa and growth outside of Africa, Maree said.

South African and foreign shareholders will receive around $3.1 billion for selling their shares in the bank to ICBC. Maree said 75 percent of that figure would flow into South Africa to compensate local shareholders.

Standard Bank said about $450 million of the proceeds would be used for growth in existing markets and investment in key markets such as Kenya, Ghana and Angola.

At 1112 GMT, Standard Bank was trading 0.48 percent weaker to 104.50 rand, while the JSE blue chip top-40 index was flat.

I think it was expected, it's not really had too much effect on the share price, a Johannesburg-based trader said.

(Reporting by Ron Derby)