DUBAI, April 17 (Reuters) - Bank Dhofar, currently in talks to merge with smaller rival Bank Sohar, beat analysts' expectations despite a 68.5 percent fall in first-quarter net profit as a one-off gain from last year wasn't repeated.
Oman's second-largest bank by market value made a profit of 10.22 million rials ($26.6 million) in the opening three months of 2014 compared to 32.44 million rials in the prior-year period, a bourse statement said on Thursday.
Four analysts polled by Reuters had predicted on average a quarterly profit of 8.92 million rials.
The first-quarter profit in 2013 was augmented by Oman's Primary Court returning 26.1 million rials to Bank Dhofar after the appeals court overturned a judgement relating to a 2011 case over the ownership of 1.93 million Bank Dhofar shares.
Excluding the legal case recovery, Bank Dhofar said its net profit for the first quarter rose 8.2 percent year-on-year.
Net loans and advances grew 17.4 percent to 2.01 billion rials from 1.71 billion rials at the same point in 2013. Deposits were also up over the same period, rising 21.8 percent year-on-year to 2.18 billion rials.
Last July, Bank Dhofar said it had approached Bank Sohar with a view to merging the two entities, with the latter saying it would consider the move. The new entity would have total assets worth 4.49 billion rials, based on fourth-quarter financial statements. ($1 = 0.3850 Omani Rials) (Reporting by David French; Editing by Andrew Torchia)