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Thu 26 Apr 2007 03:07 PM

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Bank Muscat profit surges 43.8%

Oman's largest lender reports a first-quarter profit of $49.53m.

Bank Muscat, Oman's largest lender by market value, said first-quarter profit surged 43.8% to 19.06 million rials ($49.53 million).

That compares with 13.25 million rials in the year-earlier period, a bank official said.

Bank Muscat Chief Executive Officer AbdulRazak Ali Issa told Reuters earlier this month he expected first-quarter profit to grow by at least 30% as the oil-driven economy expands.

Oman's economy may grow by 4.5% this year, compared with 6.5% last year, according to Standard Chartered.

Issa said the bank wants to boost the share of profit from foreign operations to 25% in five years from 7% in 2006, led by expanding business in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and India.

Bank Muscat's Bahrain-based affiliate BankMuscat International posted a 44.1% jump in first-quarter profit on higher lending.

The part government-owned lender, which this month opened its first branch in Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter, also plans to seek licences in the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Qatar.

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