OceanFirst Financial in Toms River, N.J., will start 2017 under new leadership — sort of.

John Garbarino will step aside as chairman of the $4.2 billion-asset company on Dec. 31, but he will turn over the job to a familiar face — Christopher Maher, who will remain president and chief executive, also.

Maher was appointed president and chief operating officer in March 2013 and joined the board that same year. He was named CEO in January 2015 when he replaced … Garbarino.

Maher was executive vice president of Dime Savings Bank of Williamsburgh in the New York area from 2005 to 2010, and president and CEO of Patriot National Bancorp in Stamford, Conn., from 2010 to 2013.

Maher was appointed to the board of the New Jersey Bankers Association in May.

Garbarino has been chairman of OceanFirst Bank since 1989 and its holding company since 1996, according to Bloomberg. Garbarino served as CEO from 1996 until Maher's appointment in 2015. He has worked for the company for 44 years.

"I plan to remain active on the board of directors and am pleased to be able to take this next step in furtherance of the company's succession plan," Garbarino said in a company news release Thursday that announced the change.

OceanFirst has 50 branches in central and southern New Jersey.

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