Wellcome Trust to sell $750m venture stakes

The charitable trust's portfolio of venture capital funds is expected to be sold in chunks to different buyers as it pursues a policy of concentrating holdings into fewer, larger positions.

The Wellcome Trust is selling a $750 million portfolio of venture capital funds on the secondaries market, according to three sources.

The portfolio is likely to be split amongst several buyers. Wellcome, which is one of Europe’s most highly regarded private equity investors, is looking to sell in order to take advantage of the high prices being paid for assets at the moment, said one source.

A spokeswoman for the Wellcome Trust said it was using the secondaries market as part of its portfolio review and asset management activity. “The Wellcome Trust is on record in recent annual reports as pursuing a policy of concentrating holdings into fewer, larger positions,” said the spokeswoman.

The auction process is being managed by Cogent Partners, who declined to comment.

Documents published by Wellcome for the year to 30 September 2013 showed total gains from its asset portfolio of 18 percent, or more than £2.6 billion, due to its public and private equity holdings, venture capital funds, hedge funds and residential property interests recorded gains of between 15 percent and 20 percent. The Trust had around $2.19 billion, or 7.8 percent of its total $28 billion of investments, invested in venture funds as of 30 September 2013. Its exposure to venture capital funds went up 1 percent year-on-year.

In 2008, Peter Pereira Gray, Wellcome deputy chief investment officer, told delegates at the Private Equity Real Estate Forum in New York that while the group had identified fund interests it was prepared to sell, it would not do so “if we don’t get the right price”.

He added that the Wellcome Trust was also prepared to buy private equity and real estate positions from primary buyers, with secondaries a “very interesting” area to the charity.