Sage Therapeutics fuels, then dampens, its own M&A rumors

The biotech's shares surged 9% on the initial Bloomberg interview.

In an interview with Bloomberg published yesterday, Sage CEO Jeff Jonas was quoted as saying his company was at the top of everyone’s buying list, sending its shares jumping. But a few short hours later (and just before the end of after-hours trading), the chief rowed back on the M&A talk.

This comes as the company also got a share boost after its major depressive disorder candidate SAGE-217 recently hit its marks in a small, phase 2 test.

Bloomberg got an interview with Jonas about the data, where he said Sage was “on top of everyone’s M&A list,’’ and has been “hearing a great deal from a lot of companies,” an uncommon mantra from a biotech CEO, especially after a relatively small trial win, but with much more to be done.  

But markets like these words, so cue its shares up by 9% in normal trading hours on the news. But later yesterday evening, the company released a statement trying to lower the tone of these comments.

“Dr. Jonas acknowledged the industry’s interest in the MDD data,” the brief update said. “Dr. Jonas’ statements did not imply that the company was in discussions with potential buyers. … Sage will have no further comment on these matters and as a policy does not comment on speculation regarding M&A activities.”

Its shares fell 1.2% after hours, with its biggest dip coming after the release of this statement, and was down around 5% premarket this morning.