Part of:
Wellcome Trust Corporate Archive
  • Archives and manuscripts

About this work


Records relating to the Wellcome Trust's investments function. They cover the development and management of the Trust's investment portfolio, including the South Kensington estate, and the first and second Wellcome plc share sales in 1986 and 1992.



Physical description

Approx 60 boxes, 1 file, 1 outsize file, 1 volume

Biographical note

From 1936 to 1986 the Wellcome Trust was the sole owner of the Wellcome Foundation, the pharmaceutical company left by Sir Henry Wellcome when he died. The Wellcome Trust was established by Wellcome's will in order to use profits from the company to support research into medical advances and the history of medicine.
In December 1983, with Sir David Steel as Chairman, the Trustees decided that the future of the Wellcome Trust would be would be more secure if it had income from sources other than the company. On 14 February 1986 the Trustees floated the pharmaceutical company on the London Stock Exchange and sold just over 25 per cent of the Trust's shares in it, raising some £200 million. The proceeds raised by the sale enabled the Trust to diversfiy its assets under the management of leading financial institutions and, later, through its in-house investments team. Since the flotation the endowment has experienced an average 14% growth every year, enabling the Trust to greatly increase the funds available to disburse in charitable grants.

In July 1992 a second share sale took place, which raised £2.3 billion and allowed the Trust to further invest in other assets, including the purchase of 56 acres of property in South Kensington, acquired in stages from 1995. Investing in property represented a move into a new investment medium for the Trust and in 1995 the Estates Committee was formed to advise on all related matters.

Following the success of the first two share sales, the Wellcome Trust sold most of its remaining interest in Wellcome plc to Glaxo plc in 1995, allowing a takeover to form Glaxo Wellcome Plc (now GlaxoSmithKline).

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

In 2018 the Wellcome Trust's endowment stood at at approximately £25.9 billion.

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