UPDATE 1-Bank Muscat meets Q4 forecasts with 42 pct profit hike

Wed Jan 15, 2014 1:26am EST

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* Q4 net profit 49.7 mln rials vs 35 mln rials yr-ago - Reuters

* 2013 net profit 152.2 mln rials vs 139.2 mln rials - statement

* Writes back Q1 card fraud provision in Q4 (Adds details, background)

DUBAI, Jan 15 (Reuters) - Bank Muscat, Oman's largest lender, posted a 42 percent increase in its fourth-quarter net profit on Wednesday, largely in-line with analysts' estimates, after insurers agreed to indemnify the bank's losses in a pre-paid card fraud case.

The bank made a quarterly profit of 49.7 million rials ($129.1 million) in the three months to Dec. 31 compared with 35 million rials in the corresponding period of 2012, according to Reuters calculations.

Four analysts polled by Reuters had, on average, estimated a fourth-quarter profit of 48.7 million rials.

Reuters calculated the net profit figure based on the bank's previous financial results. It posted a net profit of 152.2 million rials for the full-year 2013, compared to 139.2 million rials in the previous year.

The results were boosted by the $38.8 million payout from insurers after the bank was the victim of one of the biggest cyber fraud cases in history - an event which had forced it to provision the amount in the first quarter, significantly impacting its earnings.

The bank said last month it would reverse the impairment in its full-year numbers following the payout.

The fraud targeted prepaid travel cards, which allow users to carry currencies abroad rather than using their debit or credit cards in foreign countries, which can be expensive.

Impairments for the final three-month period of 2013 stood at 24.1 million rials, Reuters calculated, taking them to 50.5 million rials for the full year. Quarterly provisions rose 42 percent year-on-year while the annual amount fell 13 percent.

The bank said it booked a 2.7 million rials impairment following the sale of its stake in an Indian securities firm through a share buyback.

Bank Muscat had said in November it had received board approval for the planned disposal of Mangal Keshav Securities Ltd, without giving a value for the sale.

Loans and advances rose 9.7 percent year-on-year to 6.1 billion rials at the end of December compared to 5.6 billion rials at the same point of 2012, while deposits increased 5.9 percent over the same timeframe to 5.7 billion rials.

The lending growth rate is higher than that for the wider market, with central bank data showing a 6.3 percent year-on-year increase in November, the latest month for which figures are available. ($1 = 0.3851 Omani rials) (Reporting by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by David French and Dinesh Nair)

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