Facing up to critical mass

Getting acquired is one way to return value to investors. It may also be the only way, in some cases, to gain enough critical mass to build a viable enterprise.

The acquisition of privately held Selectide Corp. by Marion Merrell Dow Inc. illustrates - not for the first time - the premium companies are willing to pay for technology compared to the stock market. The price of the transaction announced last week is $58 million plus the proceeds from the sale Selectide's holding of 300,000 shares of Sugen Inc. (SUGN), which closed on Friday at $6.25. The $3.80 per share price MMD is paying for Selectide, a drug discovery company which has nothing in the clinic, is far more than the price of many more advanced publicly held companies