Wellcome Trust’s Holdings Gained 18% on Private Equity

The Wellcome Trust, the world’s second-biggest medical charity, said its investments returned 18 percent, or more than 2.6 billion pounds ($4.2 billion), in the year ended Sept. 30, aided by more exposure to public and private equity since 2008.

Investments in those sectors and in venture capital, hedge funds and residential property all recorded gains of 15 percent to 20 percent, Chairman William Castell said in the trust’s annual report published today. Its five biggest listed holdings were Marks & Spencer Group Plc (MKS), Vodafone Group Plc (VOD), HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA), Toyota Motor Corp. (7203) and Apple Inc. (AAPL)

“Having significantly increased our exposure to public and private equity holdings in the years 2008 to 2011, when many investors had become risk-averse, we have reaped the rewards in the last two years as they have again embraced risk assets,” Castell said in the report.

The London-based trust spent 726 million pounds on its charitable activities in the period, most of it in grants to medical research in the U.K. The five biggest recipients were the Francis Crick Institute, University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, University College London and Imperial College London.

The charity has a policy of committing 4.7 percent of the three-year weighted average of investment asset value to its annual budget, according to the report. Over the next five years, it plans to donate in excess of 3.7 billion pounds.

The trust was established in 1936 under the terms of the will of Henry S. Wellcome, co-founder of Burroughs Wellcome & Co., a forerunner of GlaxoSmithKline Plc. (GSK) It helped fund the Human Genome Project and is providing 120 million pounds toward the construction of the Crick Institute. Among medical research charities, the trust’s endowment is exceeded only by that of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrea Gerlin in London at agerlin@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Phil Serafino at pserafino@bloomberg.net

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