Jeff Marrazzo sparked a bidding war for Spark that spurred a thrifty Roche CEO to seal the winning deal with a blockbuster premium
Spark CEO Jeff Marrazzo didn’t have much going for him when Roche chief Severin Schwan told him in December that he was prepared to bid $70 a share for the pioneering gene therapy company. Like a lot of biotechs, Spark’s share price had been beat up in the second half of 2018, and Schwan was ready to turn ongoing collaboration talks into an M&A deal with sweet terms for the pharma giant.
Marrazzo’s immediate reaction was that Schwan would have to start a lot higher, well into the 80s, if he expected to get deal talks underway. Not only did Marrazzo refuse to entertain the offer, he and the board also cut off the collaboration talks with Roche. But after a few weeks, a thrifty Schwan was only ready to budge a little bit, moving to $73.
Then, as Spark’s new SEC filing shows, things began to get very interesting.
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