The company logo of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC).

South Africa's Standard Bank may sell 60 percent of its UK commodities and foreign exchange trading businesses to the Industrial & Commercial Bank of China for at least $600 million, the Wall Street Journal reported.

In a couple of years, the ICBC will also have the right to increase its stake to 80 percent, the Journal reported on Thursday, citing people with direct knowledge of the matter.

China's biggest bank by assets already has a 20 percent shareholding in Standard Bank, Africa's most valuable lender.

Standard Bank said it would not comment on the rumours but that it would continue co-operating with the Chinese bank.

“Following the acquisition of a 20 percent stake in Standard Bank by ICBC announced in October 2007, a formal co-operation agreement was signed, and which is underpinned by several workstreams including Resource Banking,” it said in a statement.

“As part of this agreement, Standard Bank continues to deepen all areas of co-operation as originally envisaged.”

The ICBC also declined to comment.

Standard Bank shares were up 0.28 percent at 13:11 SA time, outperfoming a 0.16 percent drop by Johannesburg's Top-40 index. ICBC shares were down 1.25 percent. - Reuters