* Cites lack of regulatory approval

* Central Jersey shares hit 8-yr low

Dec 17 - Savings and loan companies OceanFirst Financial Corp (OCFC.O) and Central Jersey Bancorp (CJBK.O) said they agreed to end their merger agreement, citing lack of regulatory approval, sending shares of Central Jersey down 26 percent to a new 8-year low.

The companies agreed to terminate the merger deal without penalty to either party, they said in a statement.

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, the companies said.

The deal, under which OceanFirst would have acquired Central Jersey for $68.4 million in stock, was expected to close by the year-end.

Shares of Central Jersey were trading up 1 percent at $3.73 in midday trade Thursday on Nasdaq. They touched a low of $3.52 earlier in the day.

OceanFirst shares were up 39 cents to $10.39. (Reporting by Abhiram Nandakumar in Bangalore; Editing by Unnikrishnan Nair)