UPDATE 1-Norway's DNB announces 2019-2020 dividends after Q4 earnings beat

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OSLO, Feb 10 (Reuters) - Norway’s DNB announced dividend payments for 2019 and 2020 on Wednesday and reported a smaller than expected drop in fourth-quarter earnings.

The banking group’s net profit fell to 5.27 billion Norwegian crowns ($624 million) for the October-December period from 5.95 billion a year earlier, beating an average forecast of 4.19 billion crowns in a poll of analysts.

Norway’s biggest bank set a dividend of 8.4 crowns per share for 2019, which had been held up by the country’s financial supervisory authority in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and and proposed paying up to 9.0 crowns for 2020.

Norway’s finance ministry last month ruled that banks must limit their dividend payments to a maximum of 30% of the joint profits for 2019 and 2020.

DNB’s shareholders in November authorised its board to decide a dividend for 2019 of up to 9 crowns per share, pending the regulatory approval.

If the 2020 dividend is aproved by shareholders, it will become “applicable from September 2021 until the Annual General Meeting next year”, DNB said.

$1 = 8.4423 Norwegian crowns Reporting by Victoria Klesty; editing by Terje Solsvik