Ligand Pharma snaps up struggling Metabasis

Less than two months after its CEO announced plans to jump ship, Ligand Pharmaceuticals announced a deal to buy the struggling La Jolla, CA-based Metabasis (MBRX) for only $3.2 million in cash--less net liabilities--and contingency value rights generated from the sale or partnering of its assets. And Ligand committed $8 million to fund its research work on the newly acquired development programs.

"Metabasis has built a pipeline of product candidates and drug development programs that have the potential to one day yield new therapies for metabolic and chronic liver diseases," said CEO Mark Erion, "but due to our limited financial and operational resources, we are unable to independently realize their full potential value." Metabasis shares were trading at 44 cents this morning, down by about half.

Erion announced in early September that he was leaving to join Merck, just a few months after a new restructuring of the company in May. And last fall Metabasis cut its workforce by 30 percent as it fought to cut its burn rate.

- here's Metabasis' release