The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Trust increased its stake in one of the U.K.’s largest for-profit prison operators.
The trust, the Seattle-based Gates foundation’s investment arm, added nearly 200,000 shares of Serco Group Plc in May, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That took its holding to 3.74 million shares worth about 5.3 million pounds ($6.6 million), a tiny fraction of the foundation’s total assets of about $48 billion.
The Serco shares were added to the portfolio by an outside asset manager with discretion over individual investments, according to a spokesman for the trust, who said holdings are regularly evaluated for performance and fit. The foundation’s staff have no influence over the trust’s investment decisions, according to its website.
Serco runs six for-profit prisons in the U.K., all of which are nearly filled to capacity. Britain holds a bigger proportion of inmates in for-profit prisons than any other country except Australia, and the market is dominated by three companies: Serco, G4S Plc and Sodexo SA. In January, Serco was handed a 1.9 billion-pound, 10-year government contract to provide support services for asylum seekers.