Oman\'s central bank has approved the planned merger of HSBC Holdings\' operations in the tiny Gulf Arab state with local lender Oman International Bank, the central bank said on Sunday. Both HSBC and OIB said in October last year they were in talks about merging their operations in Oman, without providing details on the structure of the transaction. \"The board has approved, in principle, the merger between Oman International Bank and HSBC Bank Middle East\'s Oman branches provided the merger does not conflict with local laws,\" the statement from the central bank said. Oman opened its doors to Islamic banking and let conventional lenders run sharia-compliant operations in May. HSBC has had a presence in Oman since 1948. OIB has a market cap of around $700m, according to Reuters data.