The Wellcome Trust has an £18.3 billion investment portfolio (at 30 September 2015) which funds all the work we do. The portfolio is managed by our investment team.

Our objectives

Our overall investment objective is to generate 4.5% real return over the long term.

This is to provide for real increases in annual expenditure while preserving the Trust's capital base to balance the needs of current and future beneficiaries.

We use this absolute return strategy because it aligns asset allocation with funding requirements and provides a competitive framework in which to judge individual investments.

Total portfolio cumulative net returns (£), period to 30 September 2015

Our investments history

Between 1936 and 1986, the Trust was the sole owner of the Wellcome Foundation, Henry Wellcome's drug company.

In 1986, the Trust began floating shares in the Foundation and used the proceeds to diversify its assets.

Since this first floatation, the endowment has experienced an average 14% growth every year. This has allowed us to greatly increase the funds available to disburse in charitable grants.

Total portfolio net returns (£)
Period to 30 September 2015
  Annualised return in £ (%)
Nominal UK CPI Real
Trailing one year 6.1 0.3 5.8
Trailing three years 13.2 1.6 11.6
Trailing five years 10.5 2.4 8.1
Trailing ten years 8.6 2.6 6.0
Trailing twenty years 8.9 2.0 6.9
Since Oct 1985 13.7 2.9 10.8
  Cumulative return in £ (%)
Nominal UK CPI Real
Trailing three years 45 5 40
Trailing five years 65 13 52
Trailing ten years 127 29 98
Trailing twenty years 453 50 403
Since Oct 1985 4,587 133 4,454


Henry Wellcome's will creates the Wellcome Group (now the Wellcome Trust). The Group owns the Wellcome Foundation Limited, the drug company.

Death duties are considerable and have to be partially funded by selling some of Henry's historical medical collection. The remainder after death duties is £3 million.


The Wellcome Foundation Limited begins developing breakthrough drugs, and sales grow from £10m a year in 1952 to £50m a year by the 1960s.

Blockbuster drugs such as Zyloric (1966) and Septrin (1967) increase sales to about £400m a year by 1977.


Zovirax is developed. It becomes the world's first billion-dollar drug in 1985.


Henry's will is legally amended to allow the flotation of 21% of the drug company. The Foundation becomes a public limited company, Wellcome plc.


A secondary share offering raises a further £2.3bn and allows the Trust to diversify its assets further.


The Foundation merges with Glaxo.

In the years up to 2001, the Trust sells out of the combined Glaxo Wellcome shares to diversify its holding.


The Trust becomes the only UK-domiciled non-public sector organisation with an Aaa/AAA credit rating and the first UK charity to issue a listed bond.

Grant giving

In the Trust's first 20 years, we disbursed a total of £1.17m of dividends. Until 1972, our trustees allowed the majority of profits to be reinvested to build up the strength of the drug company.

Between 1965 and 1991, we disbursed about £100m.

Disbursements grew from £20m in 1985 to £100m in 1992 and £200m in 1994.

Over the 2014–15 financial year, our charitable disbursements rose to £952m.

The Wellcome Trust endowment now stands at approximately £18.3bn.

Our approach

Our approach to investing is set out in our Investment policy [PDF 67KB]. This is reviewed at least every two years by our Board of Governors and Investment Committee.


We welcome the introduction of FRC's UK Stewardship Code [PDF 42KB], and support the industry's continued efforts to strengthen the role played by institutional investors in corporate governance.

Philosophy and competitive advantages

In the deliberate absence of any pre-determined strategic asset allocation, with the exception of very broad asset ranges, the following investment beliefs drive our asset allocation:

  1. Sufficient liquidity must be maintained to avoid the forced sale of assets at distressed prices. Real assets offer the best long-term growth prospects and provide protection against inflationary pressures.
  2. To maximise investment returns from global economic activity, the portfolio should be very broadly diversified with no innate geographical bias.
  3. We seek to use the advantages of our long-term investment horizon, ability to tolerate high levels of short-term volatility, AAA balance sheet and proactive governance structure in our investment portfolio.
  4. The best returns will be driven by combining aligned partnership with the strongest external managers and building in-house resource to own selected assets directly.
  5. We're generally flexible about the vehicles we invest in, whether public companies or private partnerships.

Asset allocation

The net value of our investment asset base was approximately £18.3bn at 30 September 2015.

We invest across all asset classes and, for reporting purposes, split them into four areas:

  • public equity
  • hedge funds
  • private equity
  • property and infrastructure
Investment asset allocation
As at 30 September

Change in
2012 to

Total public equities 9,663 14,636 48.0 49.4 42.1 5.9
Global 6,950 10,527 34.6 30.5 23.0 11.6
Developed World 1,025 1,553 5.1 9.7 8.3 (3.2)
Growth Markets 1,688 2,556 8.3 9.1 10.8 (2.5)
Hedge funds 2,376 3,599 11.8 11.1 16.1 (4.3)
Equity Long/Short 1,251 1,894 6.2 5.5 7.2 (1.0)
Distressed debt 173 263 0.9 1.0 1.7 (0.8)
Multi-strategy  952 1,442 4.7 4.6 5.2 (0.5)
Cash 784 1,188 3.9 3.3 3.9  -
Private equity  4,809 7,285 23.9 25.8 27.3 (3.4)
Buyout funds 1,115 1,688 5.5 6.6 7.6 (2.1)
Specialist funds 775 1,174 3.9 2.9 8.1 (4.2)
Multi-Asset Partnerships 593 898 2.9 3.0  - 2.9
Venture funds 1,791 2,713 8.9 8.7 8.0 0.9
Directs 535 812 2.7 3.8 3.6 (0.9)
Property & infrastructure 2,591 3,925 12.9 10.3 10.2 2.7
Net overlay assets (113) (172) (0.6) 0.1 (0.2) (0.4)
Total assets 20,110 30,461  -  -  -  -
Bond liabilities (1,793) (2,716)  -  -  -  -
Total assets inc bond liability 18,317 27,745  -  -  -  -

Wellcome Trust Bonds are stated at quoted offer price in the table above. The bonds are carried at amortised cost in the Consolidated Balance Sheet. Investment assets exclude programme-related investments.

The investment asset allocation presents net investment assets by investment strategy rather than the statutory asset and liabilities classification basis presented in the Financial Statements. For example, the market value of Long Only Equities Global is the net market value of the equities, cash, investment debtors and investment creditors held within portfolios with a Global Equities investment strategy.

Public equity

A significant portion of our portfolio is invested in shares listed on equity markets around the world. We do this both directly through a portfolio of shares managed by our Investment team and through third-party managers.

There's no innate geographical bias in our equity portfolio – we're focused on owning well-managed businesses that are best able to take advantage of economic opportunities around the world.

When we appoint external equity managers to manage money on our behalf, we prefer active managers who share our long-term time horizon and run concentrated portfolios.

Public equity net returns (%)
Period to 30 September 2015
  Annualised return in £ (%)
  1 year 3 years 5 years
Global 0.3 10.6 8.6
Developed World 5.4 16.5 13.9
Growth Markets  (6.8) 3.3 1.9
MSCI AC World  0.4 9.8 8.2
Public equity allocations by strategy (£)
As at 30 September
Indirectly managed 3,540 4,073 4,044 3,567 3,584
Global  1,106 645 531 375 739
Developed markets 1,025 1,866 1,953 1,522 1,332
Growth markets 1,409 1,562 1,560 1,670 1,513
Directly managed 6,123 5,473 4,045 3,179 2,481
Mega cap basket 4,055 3,883 3,352 2,771 2,262
Optionality basket 1,789 1,379 612 262 219
Growth basket 279 211 81  -  -
Other  -  -  - 146  -
Total 9,663 9,546 8,089 6,746 6,065
Direct public equity holdings>$150m
As at 30 September 2015
Rank 2015 Rank 2014   Total value
Total Value
Return on Cost
(Inception dates differ)
1 1 Vonovia* 387 587 89%
2 2 Apple 255 386 420%
3 3 Marks & Spencer 251 379 147%
4 N/A BG and Shell 230 348 NA
5 6 Microsoft 193 293 97%
6 7 Bank of America 190 288 32%
7 8 JPMorgan Chase 189 287 76%
8 15 Nestle 184 278 72%
9 11 Morgan Stanley 158 239 41%
10 N/A* 155 235 51%
11 37 Merlin 154 234 3%
12 12 Toyota 153 232 75%
13 17 General Electric 153 232 72%
14 9 Google (Alphabet) 152 230 216%
15 20 Sumitomo Mitsui FG 149 225 2%
16 14 Berkshire Hathaway 148 225 59%
17 31 Facebook 145 220 111%
18 10 HSBC 145 219 14%
19 18 Anheuser-Busch 140 212 104%
20 16 Roche 133 202 96%
21 22 Pepsico 131 198 84%
22 19 Vodafone 129 196 54%
23 23 BP 124 187 (4%)
24 4 Twitter* 124 187 38%
25 45 Alibaba* 123 186 102%
26 24 Novartis 121 183 116%
27 28 Unilever 118 179 92%
28 21 Siemens 118 179 30%
29 29 Cisco 118 179 54%
30 34 Rio Tinto 111 167 12%
31 27 Johnson & Johnson 108 163 80%
32 30 Coca-Cola 106 160 78%
33 35 BHP Billiton 106 160 (3%)
34 25 IBM 105 159 38%

* Return on cost has been adjusted for when the asset was held directly as a private company.

Hedge funds

We are one of the largest institutional investors in hedge funds.

We're prepared to consider a variety of approaches but avoid funds that employ substantial leverage to achieve returns. In general, most of the funds we invest in are closed to new investors.

Hedge fund net returns (%)
Period to 30 September 2015
  Annualised return in US$ (%)
  1 year 3 years 5 years 10 years
Distressed debt (16.3) (1.1) 1.3 4.1
Multi-strategy 0.2 7.1 6.5 5.7
Equity long/short 2.7 10.9 9.5 7.0
Total hedge funds (0.0) 8.4 7.4 6.3
MSCI AC World (6.2) 7.5 7.4 5.1
Hedge fund investments by strategy (£)
As at 30 September
Distressed debt 173 196 251 255 310
Multi-strategy 952 896 860 802 725
Equity long/short 1,251 1,073 929 1,105 1,073
Others  -  -  - 319 379
Total hedge funds 2,376 2,165 2,040 2,481 2,486

Private equity

We have major exposure to private equity. This is mainly through partnerships with well-established buyout and venture groups across a broad range of locations and sectors.

We also selectively co-invest in direct opportunities alongside external managers.

Private equity fund net returns (%)
Period to 30 September 2015
  Annualised return in US$ (%)
  1 year 3 years 5 years 10 years
Large Buyouts 2.9 11.9 11.6 10.8
Mid Buyouts 5.5 12.2 9.6 N/A
Specialist (1.6) 7.7 8.3 N/A
Venture 39.4 28.5 22.3 12.4
MSCI AC World (6.2) 7.5 7.4 5.1
Private equity investment by strategy (£)
As at 30 September
Buyouts 1,115 1,283 1,226 1,209 1,185
Specialist 775 717 895 1,218 1,028
Venture 1,791 1,683 1,352 1,237 1,211
Direct 535 733 786 585 594
Total 4,216 4,416 4,259 4,249 4,018
Multi-Asset Partnerships (MAPs)
As at 30 September 2015
  Annualised Return 2015
£ (%) US$ (%)
MAPs (inception Jan 2013) 8.8 6.1 593

Property and infrastructure

We have a global portfolio of property. Our major asset is our freehold estate in South Kensington, London.

Investment in commercial property and infrastructure is driven by finding attractive value propositions at the appropriate risk profile.

Property net returns (%)
Period to 30 September 2015
  Annualised return in £ (%)
  1 year 3 years 5 years 10 years
Non-Residential property 12.1 19.8 20.4 14.1
Residential property 11.1 15.5 16.0 14.2
Property Funds 1.7 (0.4) (1.8) 0.2
Property & infrastructure  11.3 13.4 12.7 9.3
Property investments by strategy (£)
As at 30 September
Non-Residential property 1,214 667 218 191 138
Residential property 1,272 1,216 1,101 1,091 881
Property Funds 105 128 437 349 388
Total 2,591 2,011 1,756 1,631 1,407

Risk management

We are very focused on both the qualitative and quantitative risks we take in our investments.

Our Investments team focuses on qualitative risk by continually meeting managers and through ongoing due diligence.

Our internal risk and performance team analyses the overall portfolio risk as well as the quantitative risk attributable to each asset class and underlying investment.

Investment risk is monitored and managed through a policy of holistic measurement using the following parameters:

  • value-at-risk (one-year horizon)
  • currency risk (both £ and US$ exposure)
  • equity market beta (expectation of movement in the portfolio given a certain percentage change in global equity markets)
  • liquidity and forecast cash holdings.

Volatility (standard deviation) of returns (%)

Volatility (standard deviation) of returns (%)

Bondholder information

In July 2006, we became the only UK-domiciled non-public sector organisation with an AAA credit rating and the first UK charity to issue a listed bond.

The £550m proceeds from the issue are being used for investments that, over the long term, will enable us to fund a wide range of scientific and medical research to improve health worldwide.

We received the International Financing Review award for the 2006 Sterling Bond of the Year for 'demonstrating the relevance of the capital markets to the sector and capturing the imagination of the investor community'.

Following our inaugural issue, it has been our strategy to regularly review market conditions and, on occasion, access the bond markets again when circumstances are appropriate.

We did so in:

  • spring 2009 - benchmark gilts rallied and the Trust's credit spread showed signs of relative strength, given its continued AAA (stable)/Aaa (stable) ratings.

Our initial book was more than three and a half times oversubscribed given strong demand for high-quality fixed-income product. Reflecting this, we priced with the tightest credit spread over benchmark gilts in investment grade, primary, Sterling markets since December 2007.

  • 2014 - demand for very long duration, high-grade issuance was significant. We issued bonds with a 45-year tenor.

Our initial order book was more than three and a half times oversubscribed, which allowed us to price at what we believe was the tightest spread for a non government-related issuer in the Sterling markets since the financial crisis of September 2008. We also believe this was the lowest coupon for a non government-related issuer in the Sterling markets for a bond with a maturity in excess of 40 years.

  • January 2015 - we issued our first euro bond.

This was priced at a spread of 40bps over mid swaps, with the 1.125% coupon the lowest ever for an Aaa/AAA rated corporate in the euro bond market. It is the lowest ever coupon in the euro bond market for a corporate issuance with a tenor of longer than ten years. The initial order book was seven and a half times oversubscribed.

Details of bond issues
Date of issue July 2006 May 2009 May 2014 January 2015
Size  £550.00 MM   £275.00 MM   £400.00 MM €400.00 MM
Coupon 4.625% 4.750% 4.000% 1.125%
Tenor 30 years 12 years 45 years 12 years
Issuer Wellcome Trust Finance PLC   The Wellcome Trust Limited,
as trustee of the Wellcome Trust
The Wellcome Trust Limited,
as trustee of the Wellcome Trust
Issuer rating Aaa/AAA Aaa/AAA Aaa/AAA Aaa/AAA
Structure Senior, Unsecured Bonds 
Guarantor The Wellcome Trust Limited, as trustee of the Wellcome Trust N/A N/A
Parent rating Aaa/AAA Aaa/AAA Aaa/AAA Aaa/AAA


Investment team

  • Investment team

    The team manages our endowment and oversees all investments.

    Chief Investment Officer
    Danny Truell

    Managing directors, Investment Division
    Peter Pereira Gray
    Nick Moakes

    Absolute return and buyouts
    Robert Coke, team head
    Elaina Elzinga
    Paul Verhaak
    Richard Walters

    Direct private investments
    Lisha Patel, team head
    Olivia MacDonald
    Yiota Michou

    Public markets
    Joanne Bugg
    Catherine Fraser
    Ollie Hawkins
    Hamid Kadiallah
    Fabian Thehos
    Marc Vuillemey

    Property and infrastructure
    Becky Edmunds
    Robert Holl
    Jamie Trivedi-Bateman
    Ed Warrick
    Natalie Wong

    Venture and equity long/short
    Geoffrey Love, team head
    Hermione Foster
    Charmaine Armitage-Caplan

    Risk management and performance
    Sarah Fromson, head of Investment Risk
    Adit Mehta

    Investment services
    Christopher Weston, head of Investment Services
    Kirill Arakcheev
    John Mills

    Administrative support
    Grace West, PA to the Chief Investment Officer
    Luxy Cunningham
    Gina Sexton
    Jayne Shaw

  • Investment Committee

    The Board of Governors determines the broad structure of our asset management arrangements. Responsibility for implementation is delegated to our Investment Committee and Investment team.

    Alan Brown


    Governor of the Wellcome Trust

    Alan Brown read natural sciences at the University of Cambridge before starting a career in the investment management industry, where he has worked for almost 40 years. He has held positions as a chief investment officer for the past 23 years, most recently as an Executive Director at Schroders.

    Alan's other responsibilities include Chair of the Board of the Carbon Disclosure Project, and Chair and Treasurer of the Foundation Board for the Centre for Economic Research and Graduate Education in Prague. He is a Director of the Investment Management Association, an alternate member of the Takeover Panel and a non-executive director of Pool Reinsurance Company, a scheme established to provide cover for losses arising from terrorism.

    Damon Buffini

    Governor of the Wellcome Trust

    Damon Buffini was educated at St John's College, University of Cambridge, where he read law, and at Harvard Business School, where he gained an MBA. He is a founding partner of Permira, a European private equity firm with global reach. He was managing partner from 1999 to 2007 and Chair from 2007 to 2010. Under his leadership, Permira's funds under management grew from €1.9 billion to over €20 billion and the firm expanded its international network of offices from four to 12. Over the same period, Permira helped to grow and build numerous successful businesses across Europe, including Homebase, Inmarsat and global aviation services group Jet Aviation.

    Damon is a co-founder of Social Business Trust, an initiative to grow social enterprises by using the knowledge, skills and capital of UK businesses. He is also a main board member of the Royal Shakespeare Company and a trustee of the Royal Anniversary Trust, which administers The Queen's Anniversary Prizes for Higher and Further Education.

    Kay Davies

    Deputy Chair of the Board of Governors

    Professor Davies is Dr Lee's Professor of Anatomy and Associate Head, Development, Impact and Equality, Medical Sciences Division, University of Oxford, and Honorary Director of the MRC Functional Genomics Unit. Her research interests cover the molecular analysis of neuromuscular and neurological disease, particularly Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

    She has an active interest in the ethical implications of genetics research and the public understanding of science. She has considerable experience of biotechnology companies as a conduit for translating the results of experimental science into new therapeutics and diagnostics. She is a founding editor of Human Molecular Genetics and a founding fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences.

    Stefan Dunatov

    External member

    Stefan Dunatov is Chief Investment Officer at Coal Pension Trustees Limited, which is responsible for £20bn of investments of the Mineworkers' Pension Scheme and the British Coal Staff Superannuation Scheme. Prior to Coal he was a director at Deutsche Asset Management, a portfolio strategist at Equitas, an advisor at the Reserve Bank of New Zealand and an economist at HSBC. Stefan holds undergraduate degrees in law and economics from the University of Auckland and a Masters in Economics from The London School of Economics.

    Dr Jeremy Farrar


    Jeremy Farrar became Director of the Wellcome Trust in October 2013. Before joining the Trust he was Director of the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit in Vietnam, where his research interests were infectious diseases, tropical health and emerging infections. He has contributed to 500 peer-reviewed scientific papers and served on several World Health Organization advisory committees.

    Jeremy was appointed OBE in 2005 for services to Tropical Medicine. He was awarded the Memorial Medal and Ho Chi Minh City Medal from the Government of Vietnam, Frederick Murgatroyd Prize for Tropical Medicine by the Royal College Physicians and the Bailey Ashford Award by the American Society for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, and chairs the International Severe Acute Respiratory and Emerging Infection Consortium, a global initiative to share data about emerging diseases that could become epidemics or pandemics.

    Sarah Fromson

    Head of investment risk and performance

    Sarah was previously chief investment risk officer at Royal Bank of Scotland Asset Management.

    Naguib Kheraj

    External member

    Naguib began his banking career at Salomon Brothers in 1986 and went on to hold a number of senior positions at leading international financial institutions. Over the course of 12 years at Barclays, Naguib served as group finance director and vice-chair and in various business leadership positions. He was CEO of JP Morgan Cazenove, a London-based investment banking business.

    Naguib is a former non-executive director of NHS England, and has served as a senior adviser to Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs Service and to the Financial Services Authority in the UK. He has also served as a member of the Board of the UK-US Fulbright Commission. He is currently a non-executive director of Standard Chartered, an international banking group, and of Rothesay Life, a specialist pensions insurer. Naguib spends most of his time as a senior adviser to the Aga Khan Development Network, and serves on the boards of various entities within the Aga Khan Development Network and is chairman of its Endowment Committee.

    He was educated at Dulwich College, London, and Cambridge University where he graduated with a degree in economics.

    Tim Livett

    Chief Financial Officer

    Tim joined Wellcome in December 2014 and is responsible for the leadership of the Finance and IT departments. After graduating in chemistry, Tim joined ICI/Zeneca and trained as an accountant. He then spent the majority of his career in commercial aviation, working for British Airways and, after a short break, Virgin Atlantic - most recently in the role of Chief Financial Officer.

    Eliza Manningham-Buller

    Chair of the Board of Governors

    Eliza was educated at Benenden School and Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford. She taught for three years before joining MI5 in 1974. After a career which included a posting to the British Embassy in Washington, she became Deputy Director General, with responsibility for operations, before leading the organisation as Director General, 2002-2007.

    Eliza was appointed an independent, crossbench peer in the House of Lords in 2008. She has been a member of the Privileges and Conduct Committee and the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy. She now sits on the Science and Technology Committee.

    She joined Wellcome as a Governor in 2008 and became Chair of the Board of Governors in October 2015. She joined the Council of Imperial College in 2009 and was chair from 2011 to 2015.

    She has honorary degrees from Oxford, St Andrews, Leeds, Cranfield and the Open University and has received honorary fellowships from Northampton and Cardiff, City and Guilds and Lady Margaret Hall.

    David Mayhew

    External member

    David is chair of JP Morgan Cazenove and a vice-chair of JP Morgan. He joined Cazenove & Co in 1969 from Panmure Gordon. In 1972 he became the firm's dealing partner and was subsequently responsible for the institutional equity department. In 1986 he became the partner in charge of the firm's capital markets department. He became chair of Cazenove Group plc on incorporation in 2001 and JPMorgan Cazenove in 2005 on the setting up of the joint venture with JPMorgan. David was appointed chair of Cazenove Capital Holdings in 2005. He was a non-executive director of Rio Tinto Limited and Rio Tinto plc from 2000 to 2010, and is a member of the Takeover Panel Appeal Board and a trustee of the Royal Anniversary Trust.

    Nick Moakes

    Managing director, Investment Division

    Nick was previously head of the Asia Pacific investment team and co-head of emerging markets at BlackRock Investment Management.

    Michael Moritz

    External member

    Michael Moritz is the Chairman and former Managing Partner of Sequoia Capital and has invested in companies such as Google, Yahoo!, PayPal and LinkedIn. Before joining Sequoia Capital in 1986, he worked at Time Warner and was a founder of Technologic Partners. Michael holds an M.A. from the University of Oxford and an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He was appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2013 for services to promoting British economic interests and philanthropic work.

    Peter Pereira Gray

    Managing director, Investment Division

    Before joining the Trust, Peter was director: property fund management at Prudential on an award-winning portfolio.

    Danny Truell

    Chief Investment Officer

    Danny joined the Trust in 2005, having previously been a Managing Director of Goldman Sachs and Co. in its investment management division. Prior to joining Goldman Sachs in 1996, Danny's career was focused on Asian financial markets.

Read our latest annual report and financial statements