UPDATE 1-Norway's DNB profits fall less than expected
* Profit NOK 3.81 bln vs forecast NOK 3.32 bln
* Offers 2012 dividend of NOK 2.1/shr vs forecast 2.0
OSLO Feb 7 (Reuters) - DNB, Norway's biggest bank, on Thursday reported fourth-quarter earnings ahead of expectations and said loan losses would remain at roughly the same level this year as in 2012.
The bank's fourth-quarter net profit fell to 3.81 billion Norwegian crowns ($694.09 million), from 4.09 billion a year ago, beating expectations for 3.32 billion.
"The DNB Group will continue to build up capital and improve its capital adequacy ratios," DNB said in a statement.
The bank is building up capital reserves ahead of new regulation in Norway. The country's banks are expecting new rules this year that will affect both their sources of financing and the amount of capital they must hold.
The banking regulator wants to cap banks' use of mortgage-backed bonds to prevent the industry from becoming too reliant them as source of funding. The regulator is also expected to raise the overall capital banks must hold against home loans to help prevent a housing bubble.
DNB will offer a dividend of 2.1 crowns per share for 2012, slightly up on the 2.0 crowns per share offered in 2011 and on analysts' median forecasts for 2.0 crowns in a Reuters poll.
The bank did not say how the expected regulation could impact its dividend policy going forward.
($1 = 5.4892 Norwegian kroner) (Reporting by Gwladys Fouche. Editing by Jane Merriman)