By Neeraj Gangal
Operating costs at sultanate's third-largest bank by market value climbed 9.3% during the quarter.
National Bank of Oman, the sultanate's third-largest bank by market value, said a decline in customer deposits and higher operating costs pulled down its first-quarter net profit.
The bank said on Thursday profit slipped 10.3 percent to 6.58 million rials from 7.33 million a year ago, missing analysts' forecasts of 7.99 million rials.
NBO, which in January named Salam Al Shaksy of Dubai Bank as its new chief executive, said customer deposits shrank 3.5 percent during the quarter, while lending slowed 2.4 percent.
Operating expenses at the bank, which is about 35 percent owned by Commercial Bank of Qatar, climbed 9.3 percent during the quarter.
In the past year banks in Oman, as elsewhere in the Gulf region, have booked more provisions against bad debt, crimping profits and curtailing credit growth.
Omani banks, however, are expected to benefit from the sultanate's economic growth in 2010. Omani officials in March said the country expected to post a budget surplus in 2010 on the back of high oil prices, while economic growth is forecast at around 6 percent. (Reuters)