Wellcome releases 2017/18 annual results

Wellcome Trust and Wellcome Trust Finance plc (a wholly owned subsidiary of The Wellcome Trust Limited, as trustee of the Wellcome Trust) announce that they have each published their Annual Report and Financial Statements for the year to 30 September 2018 today. A copy of each document is available on the Wellcome Trust website

Wellcome Trust is pleased to report that our investment portfolio recorded a total return of 13.4 per cent for the year to 30 September 2018, or 10.7 per cent after inflation. Charitable expenditure in support of our mission was notably lower at £723 million compared to £1,221 million last year. This principally reflects the timing of significant commitments as this was a year with no major renewals or large one-off awards. We generated net income before taxation of £2.2 billion, in line with that achieved in the previous year. The investment base rose to almost £25.9 billion (2017: £23.2 billion), taking account of the net income gain and the addition of Wellcome’s holding in Syncona to the investment portfolio in May at a value of £483 million.

In nominal terms, we have returned 203 per cent cumulative (11.7 per cent annualised) in the decade since the start of the Global Financial Crisis in September 2008, recording positive returns in each of these years. Returns have been 469 per cent cumulative (9.1 per cent annualised) over 20 years. Since the inception of our investment portfolio in 1985, it has provided a total return averaging 13.9 per cent a year.

We maintain a AAA/Aaa (stable) credit rating.  In January we issued a £750 million 100-year bond.  The final coupon achieved of 2.517 per cent was the lowest rate for any corporate bond in the Sterling market with a tenor longer than 50 years.

On the back of this performance, and recognising there will be significant movements from year to year, we aim to maintain the real level of charitable spending in our Primary Fund, which covers most of our charitable activities, at around £900 million a year on average at least until 2022.  We also made an additional allocation of £200 million to be drawn down to fund current and future priority areas and other large-scale, high-impact activities such as Drug Resistant Infections and Mental Health.  We will review further allocations annually in the light of the performance of the investment portfolio and the pipeline of projects suitable for funding.

This year, we enjoyed nominal returns of over 5 per cent in Sterling from every asset class. Each major element of the portfolio (public equities, private equities, venture capital, hedge funds and property) has also performed strongly over the longer term. Although Sterling weakened slightly over the year on continued uncertainty around Brexit, currency movements did not have a major impact on returns. 

Baroness Manningham-Buller, Chair of the Wellcome Trust, said: "I am pleased to report that, once again, our investments have done well. The performance of our portfolio in more difficult global markets has provided the ability for us to increase our charitable commitment over the last ten years. Our sincere thanks go to the Investment team for the part that they have played in making this possible."

Nick Moakes, Chief Investment Officer and Managing Partner of the Investment Division at Wellcome, added: "The portfolio has again performed well. As the global economic cycle matures, markets have become more volatile. Our global focus and long-term horizon have helped us navigate a choppier environment. The decade since the Global Financial Crisis has seen very strong investment returns, which we do not expect to be repeated over the next ten years. We have therefore sharpened our focus on preserving liquidity and generating cash flow from the portfolio to support the mission."