Wellcome Trust pledges to triple Africa exposure

Medical foundation the Wellcome Trust, helmed by CIO Danny Truell (pictured), has vowed to triple its exposure to Africa over the next five years.

Danny Truell, chief investment officer at the Wellcome Trust, told delegates Wednesday at PEI’s third annual Africa Forum that the $26 billion foundation will increase its exposure to Africa from $500 million at present to $600 million by year-end, and $1.5 billion by 2016.

More than 200 delegates at a packed 8 Northumberland Avenue in London heard Truell state the case for further investment in the continent.

“Africa has been a pretty happy experience for us,” he said, “and in the next 20 years the demographics will become more favourable”.

Wellcome has entered into three Africa-based partnerships to date, two of which make private equity investments, Truell said. The partnerships are between Wellcome and one other party in each case, rather than via a more traditional private equity fund structure with multiple limited partners.

“Partnership is about culture and alignment of interest of what we want to do,” he said. “We are not interested in buying and asset and ‘flipping’ it.”

Truell said alignment of interest applied not just to the general partner, but also to the other limited partners. “We don’t invest in partnerships alongside supranationals, governments or development finance institutions,” he said.

Other speakers at the conference, which concludes Thursday, include The Rt Hon Lord Boateng,  former Chief Secretary to the Treasury and British High Commissioner to South Africa, and Mark Florman, the chief executive officer of the British Private Equity and Venture Capital Association and co-founder of 8 Miles, an Africa-focused buyout firm.