Commerce Bancorp said Thursday it would buy Prestige Financial Corp. of Flemington, N.J., for $75.2 million in stock. The price equals 3.55 times Prestige's book value and 23 times earnings.

Prestige has $310 million of assets and eight branches in central New Jersey. The deal is expected to close early in the first quarter.

The agreement calls for Commerce to swap 0.4069 shares of its common stock for each share of Prestige in a tax-free exchange.

Commerce, with $4.6 billion of assets, operates 80 branches in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. This deal, coupled with its deal to buy Tinton Falls (N.J.) State Bank, would give Commerce more than 100 branches in the two states.

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