Waksal brushes off jail time, plots biotech IPOs in a red-hot market

If at first you get caught for insider trading, try, try again. Anxious to reap some of the rewards showered on biotech investors during the IPO boom of the past few months, a bullish Sam Waksal hopes to banish the ethical cloud that has hung over his head since doing jail time for the Imclone insider trading scandal with plans to spin some units out into public companies.

Waksal wound up doing five years as a result of an insider trading case that also took down Martha Stewart. He also accepted a lifetime ban from running a public company. But he tells Bloomberg's Meg Tirrell that after founding Kadmon three years ago, he's interested in spinning out projects on gene therapy and metabolomics into new companies to list on U.S. exchanges while creating a company in China that could list in the huge Asian market.

"We haven't seen a biotech market like this since 2000," Waksal told Bloomberg, citing big hits for IPOs at Epizyme and bluebird earlier in the year. "You get these windows, you get companies funded, you get shareholders that are interested in an approach, a strategy, a technology, a management team, and often, you really get big winners." He added that he hadn't decided whether the new companies--which should list later this year or early next year--will be part-owned by Kadmon or operated in partnership with the company.

Waksal's past hasn't held him back from raising a reported half-billion dollars in equity, debt and strategic partnerships with such firms as SAC Capital. And some Wall Street investors say he could pull this new score off as well.

"Everybody is aware of the news around Sam, but Wall Street has a history of second chances," Poliwogg's Les Funtleyder tells Tirrell.

Eli Lilly ($LLY) ended up buying Imclone back in 2008 for $6.5 billion.

- here's the feature from Bloomberg