(MENAFN - Muscat Daily) Commercial banks in Oman are looking to boost their corporate loan book as growth in retail lending is expected to remain sluggish in the fourth quarter and next year due to regulatory changes earlier this year.The sultanate's six listed commercial banks' total credit offtake grew 17 per cent to RO12.16bn in the nine-month period ended September 30, 2012, against RO10.39bn a year ago, according to their financial reports.Total outstanding corporate loans issued by the six banks grew 15.2 per cent to RO7.32bn in the nine-month period from RO6.35bn a year ago. Outstanding personal and consumer loans increased 19 per cent to RO5.21bn from RO4.37bn.In May this year, the Central Bank of Oman (CBO) issued new regulations for personal and housing loans in which it stipulated that the debt burden ratio (DBR) - the ratio of equated monthly instalments (EMIs) to the borrowers monthly income - should not be more than 50 per cent for personal loans.Bankers see growth potential in the corporate segment as government spending on infrastructure projects continues, but growth of retail loans may slow further in the fourth quarter and next year.V Balasubramanian, financial controller at National Bank of Oman, said that retail-loan disbursements will slow down, which is evident from the third-quarter performance.''Because of the new regulations most loan top-ups are not happening. Growth in the retail segment could happen only through new loans issued to the newly employed."However, we still believe that there are enough jobs being created in the economy and we will have decent growth in retail loans next year,'' Balasubramanian added.He said that the outlook is good for the corporate segment. ''The growth in corporate loans has been driven mainly by borrowing of government entities."We have to wait and watch whether these government entities will continue to borrow next year as well, but there will be opportunities for corporate loans.''Credit addition in commercial bank's total corporate loan book during the nine-month period was RO969mn, while addition to the personal loan segment remained at RO835mn.C B Ganesh, deputy CEO of commercial banking and treasury at Ahlibank, said that most of the growth in personal loans had happened in the first five months, after which the credit offtake was driven by corporates.''Banks are currently focused on corporate loans. They are making disbursements for big projects which were awarded in the past.''Growth in the retail-loan segments has stagnated. Most of the existing retail borrowers are already above the 50 per cent DBR and cannot borrow further,'' Ganesh added.