Oman's financial regulator, the Capital Market Authority (CMA), is encouraging consolidation in the country's crowded financial sector, aiming in the long term for local banks to build a regional presence in the Gulf region.
"Maybe we are overbanked in a way, so limiting the number of banks would be better for the market, especially for banks starting from scratch," Abdullah Salem Al Salmi, CMA's executive president, said in an interview. "We would like to see some consolidation."
Growth in the banking sector has slowed. Assets in commercial banks in Oman grew 13.9 percent in 2012, compared to 17.6 percent in 2011, central bank data showed.
There are now 18 banks in the sultanate, after last year's merger between the local business of HSBC Holdings and Oman International Bank. The merger created the country's second largest bank by market capitalisation, HSBC Bank Oman, which last month posted a 62.7 percent slump in 2012 net profit.