Wellcome Trust looks to buy PE, RE interests, not just sell

Peter Pereira Gray, Wellcome deputy chief investment officer, said at the PERE Forum conference in New York that the £15 billion UK medical research charity is looking to buy private equity and real estate interests as well as sell, contrary to media reports.

The Wellcome Trust today insisted it is not just in the market to sell part of its £3.8 billion private equity and real estate portfolio but that it is actively looking to make new investments in the asset classes as well.

Speaking at the PERE forum in New York, Wellcome deputy chief investment officer Peter Pereira Gray said reports that the £15 billion fund was putting chunks of its alternatives portfolio up for sale in response to the deepening financial and economic crisis was only one side of the story.

The fund, which finances medical research, is actively managing its portfolio, according to Pereira Gray, and has identified funds it is “prepared to sell”.

However, he insisted the fund would not sell positions “if we don’t get the right price”.

The vast majority of the portfolio available for sale includes private equity positions, as well as some real estate investments.

Pereira Gray told the forum Wellcome also is prepared to buy into private equity and real estate positions, particularly through direct secondary deals. Secondaries is a “very interesting” area to the charity.

Wellcome, he said, is a “sterling investor” and has enjoyed “substantial performance” from its investments in private equity and real estate funds. “This is asset management,” he said.

Pereira Gray said the charity has about $2.25 billion in cash available for operations, research funding and fund investment.