Amid swirl of sale rumors, Life makes another buy of its own

If a growing queue of anonymous sources is to be believed, Life Technologies ($LIFE) is angling to get itself bought, but that didn't stop the company from chasing down another tuck-in deal. Life is buying Dutch bioprocessing outfit BAC BV for an undisclosed sum, looking to expand its capabilities in drug development and protein purification.

The deal will bolster Life's therapeutic purification portfolio and add 34 employees to its staff, the company said, but the acquisition is expected to be earnings neutral after it closes. After all, Life still hangs its hat on molecular diagnostics and genetic sequencing.

How this affects the groundswell of buyout rumors remains to be seen, but Reuters and other sources have joined Canada's Financial Post in citing people close to the action who say Life is on the hunt for a new home. The Post figures Life will go for as much as $75 per share, or $15.7 billion total, but Jefferies said in a note that $50 to $60 per share is a safer bet.

Then again, at that rate, Life would be selling itself short after Friday's market reaction to the rumors. The company jumped as much as 10%, peaking at $61.47 before closing at $60.79, and its shares are hovering around that level in early trading Tuesday.

Next on Life's calendar is a quarterly earnings report set for Feb. 4, and if the good news keeps up, Life's record share price could make it all the way to its rumored midmonth target date for closing a sale, boosting the final price.

Of course, to this point, the official word from Life is that it is seeking financial advice simply to "assist in its annual strategic review," and "the board of directors has not decided on any specific course of action." But, as its shares attest, no one's really buying that this week.

- read Life's announcement