For lack of anything constructive to do, Wall Street engaged in a round of takeover speculation last week focused on Chiron Corp. and Synergen Inc.

The CHIR rumors, at least, turned out to have a solid foundation, as the Emeryville, Calif., company confirmed that it is in discussions with an unnamed company for a strategic alliance that would involve the acquisition of "a very substantial minority equity investment" in CHIR. CHIR spokesperson Larry Kurtz said that could be interpreted as an equity stake in the range of 25 percent to below 50 percent.

The stock had been jacked up $19.50 on the rumors earlier on Friday. It settled back after the company's statement, but still gained 20 percent to close at $71.50, up $11.75, on 8.5 million shares traded.

Fathoming the reasons

Having gotten that much out of the company, analysts focused their attention on who might be the likely partner and on the reasons CHIR might consider such a deal.