(Corrects Q4 net profit in alert to 1.08 bln ringgit, not 4.35 bln ringgit)
KUALA LUMPUR Feb 25 CIMB Group Holdings Bhd , Southeast Asia's fifth-largest lender by assets, posted a 4.5 percent decline in fourth-quarter net profit, dragged down by a weaker performance in its investment segment and costs related to acquisitions.
Malaysia's second-largest bank said in a statement on Monday that net profit for the quarter ended on Dec. 31 was 1.08 billion ringgit ($348.22 million).
The full-year net profit of 4.35 billion ringgit was roughly in line with the average forecast of 4.31 billion ringgit in a Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S poll of 24 analysts.
CIMB has been expanding in Asia and in 2012 acquired some of the Asian operations of Royal Bank of Scotland Plc and the unlisted banking arm of the Philippines' San Miguel Corp .
CIMB's Indonesia operations contribute about 30 percent of its earnings.
"Although still quite fragile, the global operating environment is showing signs of improvement which is key to sustaining growth in Asia," Nazir Razak, group chief executive of CIMB, said in a statement.
"We believe that we can sustain a net return on equity of 16 percent for 2013 on our higher capital and cost base, by driving revenues and efficiencies especially from our newly merged business units and enlarged investment banking operations," Nazir added.
CIMB's profit growth compares with a 16 percent rise in quarterly profit reported last week by Malayan Banking Bhd (Maybank), the country's biggest bank, which was bolstered by higher net loans as it aggressively taps a consumer credit boom.
CIMB shares closed 0.3 percent higher at 7.07 ringgit per share on Monday, in line with the broader market's 0.3 percent rise.
CIMB rose 2.6 percent in 2012, compared with Maybank's 7.2 percent gain and the Kuala Lumpur benchmark's 10.3 percent rise. ($1 = 3.1015 Malaysian ringgit) (Reporting By Yantoultra Ngui and Al-Zaquan Amer Hamzah; Editing by Edmund Klamann)