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Country Bank merges with OceanFirst in $102M deal

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Country Bank, which operates a branch locally at 583 W. 235th St., is merging with OceanFirst Financial Corp., a New Jersey-based bank chain with some 75 locations throughout the state.

The merger, expected to complete early next year, is valued at $102.2 million, and will affect all five locations in Riverdale, Woodlawn, Manhattan and Scarsdale.

"We are very pleased about partnering with a high-perfoming company that shares our community banking culture and values," said Joseph Murphy, Country Bank chairman and chief executive, in a release. "We find the strategic fit of the two organizations compelling, especially for our customers that will benefit from the broader array of products and services, and for our stockholders.

"We will leverage the new resources and products available to us through OceanFirst Bank, and are attracted to the opportunity to operate in our current markets with a significantly larger scale."

OceanFirst, which trades on the Nasdaq under the symbol "OCFC," has had a net income of $40.2 million through the first six months of 2019, compared to $21.1 million the year before, according to filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. 

OceanFirst maintains more than $8 billion in total assets, and already has grown significantly over the past couple of years through an aggressive acquisition strategy.  OceanFirst acquired Sun Bancorp — which operated Sun National Bank — in January 2018 for $474.9 million. It then picked up Capital Bank of New Jersey for $76.8 million, according to SEC filings. 

Both acquisitions added $2.5 billion in assets and $2.1 billion in deposits for OceanFirst.

Christopher Maher, chairman and chief executive of OceanFirst, said bringing in Country Bank will help the overall chain continue its growth beyond New Jersey and into New York City. 

"We believe the addition of this high-performing franchise will further leverage the significant investments we have made in people, processes and technology, and positively impact our earnings potential," Maher said, in a release.

The deal already has been approved by both the Country Bank and OceanFirst boards, but is still subject to approval by all of Country Bank's shareholders, as well as by bank regulators. 

Along with the Country Bank merger, OceanFirst says it has signed a merger agreement with Two River Bancorp, the holding company of Two River Community Bank in Tinton Falls, New Jersey. That bank, founded in 2000, operates 14 branch locations and two loan offices, and manages $1.2 billion in assets.

Country Bank Holding Company Inc., the parent company of Country Bank, was founded in 1988, and manages more than $780 million in assets. The bank is currently controlled by the Murphy family, and specializes in small business and commercial real estate lending.

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