China's BoCom Q4 profit almost flat, lower margins drag

* BoCom Q4 profit up 1 percent year-on-year, above consensus

* Net interest margin at 1.88 pct by end-2016, vs 1.91 pct

in Q3

* NPL ratio dipped to 1.52 pct end-Dec from 1.53 pct


(Adds details, background)

SHANGHAI, March 28 (Reuters) - Bank of Communications Co Ltd

(BoCom), China's fifth-largest listed

commercial bank by assets, reported almost flat profits and its

lowest net interest margins in at least five years after

successive rate cuts.

Beijing's move to lower benchmark interest rates six times

in 2014-2015 in a bid to revive a slowing economy has dragged

down net interest margins - a key gauge of profitability - for

lenders in China.

BoCom, the first of China's Big Five state-owned banks to

report 2016 results, on Tuesday posted a net profit of 14.63

billion yuan ($2.12 billion) for the quarter ended December,

versus 14.49 billion yuan a year ago, according to Reuters

calculations based on the company's full-year figures.

That was slightly above an average estimate of 13.4 billion

yuan from 16 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.

BoCom's net interest margin, the difference between interest

paid and earned, was 1.88 percent at end-December - lowest since

at least end-2011 and down from 1.91 percent at end-September.

For the full year, net profit rose to 67.21 billion yuan,

from 66.53 billion yuan a year earlier.

BoCom's non-performing loan (NPL) ratio was 1.52 percent by

end-December, versus 1.53 percent at end-September.

BoCom has recently faced some regulatory failings, with one

of its units being fined by the Hong Kong securities regulator

for due diligence failures and the bank's chief risk officer

being expelled from his post for graft.

($1 = 6.8850 Chinese yuan renminbi)

(Reporting by Engen Tham in Shanghai and Shu Zhang in Beijing;

Editing by Himani Sarkar)