Having won High Court permission to sell its pharmaceutical shares, the Wellcome Trust is turning its thoughts to how to invest its £3.6bn nest egg.

The Trust says it will look at a spread of equity and gilts, but, with extortionate advisers' fees on such a complicated programmed deal threatening to eat up a fraction of the capital it may look for an easier investment.

Buying British Investment Trust, the £850m trust trading at an 11 per cent discount to net asset value, could provide a simple solution.

It is 85 per cent owned by the Coal Board pension fund, which faces a £60m hole in its balance sheet if it sells its stake.

After the pension fund's failed 1977 bid for BIT, an acquisition is impractical. Therefore the fund could hope to sell its huge stake at a premium to some outfit like Wellcome Trust, which might obtain a well-invested portfolio at a few per cent short of its net asset value.

In addition, Wellcome would inherit a controlling stake in the prestigious Edinburgh Fund Managers.

"It is a tempting idea," said a source close to the trust.