By Mary Welch

Symyx Technologies Inc., which develops and applies combinatorial technologies to the discovery of materials for the life sciences industry, registered to sell 1.25 million of its common stock, which at Thursday¿s opening price of $64.75 would gross about $81 million.

Symyx¿s stock (NASDAQ:SMMX) closed Thursday at $61.25, down $3.50.

In addition, existing shareholders will sell about 1.5 million shares.

The underwriters, led by New York-based Credit Suisse First Boston Corp., will have an option to purchase another 412,500 shares to cover overallotments. If that option is fully exercised, Santa Clara, Calif.-based Symyx would bring in about $107.6 million at Thursday¿s opening price. Also underwriting the offering are Chase H&Q, ING Barings LLC and Invemed Associates LLC, all of New York.

The proceeds would be used for general corporate purposes, including increasing the company¿s equity capital and creating a larger public float of common stock. Other uses will be for research and development and capital expenditures.

The company went public late last year raising almost $90 million by selling 6.36 million shares at $14 each. Prior to going public, the company had raised more than $50 million in private and venture sources.

Founded in 1995 by biotech pioneer Alejandro Zaffaroni, Symyx posted 1999 revenues of $30.5 million and a net loss of $2.1 million, or 10 cents per share. The company had $119 million in cash as of Dec. 31, with 29.5 million shares outstanding.

Symyx¿s combinatorial technologies enable the high-speed, automated synthesis and screening of large numbers of different materials. Symyx merges miniaturization, automation and parallel processing technologies with chemistry to generate and evaluate diverse libraries of up to 25,000 different materials, it said.

The company applies its proprietary combinatorial technologies to discover materials both internally and with collaborators. Current partners have committed a total of over $90 million in near-term research funding, of which $49 million was recorded as revenues through Dec. 31.

The company¿s technologies, including discovery efforts, encompass a broad range of materials, including X-ray storage phosphors for mammography, polymers to speed DNA separation, thermoelectric materials for cooling computers and telecommunications equipment, and catalysts for the manufacture of pharmaceuticals, commodity chemicals, plastics and rubbers, the company said.

To date, the company has screened more than 1 million different materials and identified 10 development candidates.

One of its most advanced efforts is the discovery of new X-ray phosphors for mammography. These materials have been transferred to partner Agfa AG, of Mortsel, Belgium, for expected launch in 2001.

In January, Symyx signed a joint development and licensing agreement with PE Biosystems, of Foster City, Calif., to develop proprietary polymer synthesis materials and methods for use in the analysis of DNA. The companies will jointly design polymers as well as the methods and instrumentation for screening.