Trust adviser holds Wellcome stake

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The Independent Online
Fleming Asset Management, an arm of the merchant bank advising Wellcome Trust, has a £143.5m stake in the drugs group in which the trust is the largest shareholder.

Wellcome, on the receiving end of a £9.4bn takeover bid from Glaxo, said it became aware late on Friday of the 14.1 million shares held by Fleming, as a result of a Section 212 notice it served on the fund managers. These are issued to establish the trueidentity of shareholders.

A spokesman said Fleming Asset Management, a separate department of Robert Fleming merchant bank from the corporate finance team advising the Trust, had built the stake up since last September. The stake of 1.5 per cent is the fifth largest after the trust, which has 39.5 per cent, Prudential, Schroders Investment Managers and Phillips & Drew Fund Management.

Meanwhile, more details emerged of the manoeuvrings in the weeks ahead of the Glaxo bid.

Wellcome sources confirmed that a week before Christmas Bernard Taylor, the leading adviser to the trust, arranged a meeting scheduled for 10 January between Flemings' corporate finance side, Sir Richard Sykes, chief executive of Glaxo, and Sir Roger Gibbs, chairman of the trust, which is one of Britain's foremost charities.

At the meeting, Sir Richard sounded out Sir Roger on the prospect of the trust selling its Wellcome stake.

When the bid was announced on Monday, 23 January, Flemings attracted controversy by giving Wellcome's directors just four days to persuade the trust not to sign an irrevocable undertaking to pledge its shares to Glaxo - providing a higher bid does not emerge within 21 days of Glaxo's offer document being posted. That is expected on Wednesday along with interim trading results expected to show a profit of £1.03bn.

Wellcome sources also pointed to previous links between Mr Taylor and the Glaxo chief executive. They said he was appointed last September to the advisory team of the newly-formed Prescribe UK, a government/industry initiative to boost inward investment in the UK drugs industry. The advisory team is chaired by Sir Richard Sykes.

In addition, one of Mr Taylor's back-up team, Marion Sears, is understood to have worked for Glaxo before entering the City.

Mr Taylor, poached early last year by Flemings from Barings - which, with Morgan Stanley, advises Wellcome group - now finds himself on the opposite side of the table to his former colleagues.

Mr Taylor is reputed to have started at Flemings with a "golden hello" payment of £700,000-£800,000. His salary is believed to be over £500,000 a year.