A Bristol-Myers Squibb spokesman refused to comment on speculation that broke Wednesday morning concerning a possible bid to takeover the drug giant.

The spokesman did reaffirm the company’s commitment to build at Devens.

A jump in the price of Bristol-Myers Squibb shares on the New York Stock Exchange fueled takeover speculation, generated by an article in the Financial Times.

According to a story by the Associated Press, the Financial Times reported that a Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. analyst implied in a note to a client that Bristol-Myers is in a vulnerable position for takeover. Bristol-Myers has reportedly hired Lehman Brothers, Citigroup and Morgan Stanley as advisors in the matter.

The names of two potential purchasers were mentioned: Sanofi and Wyeth Corporation.

According to the AP story, the pharmaceutical giant is nearing the end of a trial over its patent on the blood thinner Plavix, which has recently been losing sales due to the introduction of a generic competitor.

Jeffrey MacDonald, a Bristol-Myers Squibb spokesman in New York, said Wednesday afternoon, “We’re not commenting on rumors or speculation about any market activity.

“However, regarding Plavix, the patent extends through 2011. A Canadian company has challenged that patent in Southern District Federal Court in New York,” he said. “The product is currently under patent.”

MacDonald said Bristol-Myers Squibb remains committed to building a biologic facility at Devens and is currently working on finalizing the land acquisitions.

“We’re working with state and local authorities on acquisition and we expect to break ground soon,” MacDonald said.

The importance of the planned Bristol-Myers Squibb plant in Devens in unquestioned. With it will come hundreds of jobs and the generation of untold dollars into the state and local market.

Despite the fevered pitch of this week’s takeover rumors, MacDonald’s assurances about Devens were good to hear.

What’s the big secret?

There is little that fans the flames of rumor and innuendo as quickly as secrecy.

In Townsend, fire Chief William Donahue was required by contract to relocate to within 15 miles of Townsend. Many of the selectmen’s imposed deadlines for doing so have come and gone without resolution.

At this point, it seems that the chief has rented an apartment on Brown Road in Townsend. The question is — does that resolve the residency requirement in the contract?

Whether it does or not, the people of Townsend deserve to know where their fire chief is living and what the selectmen think about the matter.

Holding discussions in closed session under the guise of contract negotiations only exacerbate possibly unwarranted negative perceptions.

Being honest and open with the townspeople could do wonders.