DUBAI- Kuwait Finance House (KFH), the country's biggest Islamic lender, posted a 26 percent rise in fourth-quarter net profit, despite a fall in operating revenue and net operating profit, according to a statement on Wednesday.
The bank, which has been in merger talks since mid-2018 with Bahrain's Ahli United Bank , said net profit rose to 58.3 million dinars ($192 million) in the three months to Dec. 31, from 46.3 million dinars in the same period a year ago.
Investment bank EFG Hermes had forecast the lender would make a quarterly net profit of 50.0 million dinars.
KFH's profit rose even though it reported a 16.9 percent fall in total operating revenue to 156.4 million dinars over the period and a 10.8 percent decline in net operating profit to 86.8 million dinars.
The planned merger would create the largest banking entity in Kuwait with assets of about $94 billion, and the sixth largest bank in the Gulf region. It is expected to boost KFH's consolidated profit by more than 90 percent from the level in 2018, KFH said last month.
The bank reported a 23.5 percent rise in annual net profit for 2018 to 227.41 million dinars. ($1 = 0.3035 Kuwaiti dinars)
(Reporting By Tom Arnold; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle) ((Tom.Arnold@thomsonreuters.com; +97144536265; Reuters Messaging: email@example.com))