OceanFirst Financial Corp. in Toms River, N.J., is nixing its plan to buy the $578 million-asset Central Jersey Bancorp because of a delay in getting regulatory approval.

The two companies said Thursday that they mutually agreed to terminate their agreement without penalty to either side. They did not specify a reason for the regulatory delay.

The $1.9 billion-asset OceanFirst announced in May that it would buy Central Jersey in Oakhurst, N.J., in an all-stock deal that had been expected to close by yearend. Central Jersey shareholders would have gotten half a share of OceanFirst for each of their shares.

In a joint statement, the companies said that they still would like to merge but that "the current environment is such that obtaining regulatory approval has taken much longer than we anticipated and has reached a point where we believe that continuing to wait for this approval is not in the best interest of either company."

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