Carlos Slim Helú is a Mexican business magnate, investor, and philanthropist. From 2010 to 2013, Slim was ranked as the richest person in the world, but that position has been regained by Bill Gates. His extensive holdings in a considerable number of Mexican companies through his conglomerate, Grupo Carso, SA de CV, have amassed interests in the fields of communications, technology, retailing, and finance. Presently, Slim is the chairman and chief executive of telecommunications companies Telmexand América Móvil.
Carlos Slim Helú studied Civil Engineering at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (known by its Spanish acronym UNAM) School of Engineering, where he also taught Algebra and Linear Programming while studying for his degree, meaning that he was both a student and professor.
In 1965, when he was only 25 years old, he began to build the foundations of Grupo Carso. Inmobiliaria Carso was incorporated in January 1966, three months before marrying Soumaya Domit Gemayel, hence the name Carso, which is a combination of the first three letters of Carlos and the first two letters of Soumaya.
Since the 1980s he has been a noted businessman in various industrial, real estate and commercial fields. In 1982, which was a critical time in the history of Mexico with the debt crisis, nationalization of the banking system and the country’s finances nearly paralyzed, Carlos Slim and his Grupo Carso decided to invest heavily and actively. They made diverse investments and acquisitions during this period, one of which was Cigatam, which turned out to be the first and most important because of its cash flow, providing the Group with sufficient liquidity to capitalize on available opportunities and thereby increase itsacquisitions of big companies, including: Hulera el Centenario, Bimex, Hoteles Calinda (today, OSTAR Grupo Hotelero) and Reynolds Aluminio. Some time later the purchase of Seguros de México was closed, and Grupo Financiero Inbursa was formed by integrating Casa de Bolsa Inversora Bursátil, Seguros de México and Fianzas La Guardiana. By 1985, Grupo Carso acquired control of Artes Gráficas Unidas, Fábricas de Papel Loreto y Peña Pobre, and also a majority stake in Sanborns and its affiliate Dennys. In 1986 Minera FRISCO and Empresas Nacobre were acquired, as well as their affiliates, and control of the Euzkadi tire company, the market leader at the time, was also acquired, as was a majority stake in General Tire some years later.
1. He’s the first ‘World’s Richest’ man from a developing nation
2009 was good to the super-rich in poorer nations: Brazil and Russia each doubled their billionaire counts; and China’s new total (64 billionaires) ranks second only to the America. Slim, as an owner of more than 220 companies in telecommunications, banking, railways, and restaurants (to name a few), saw his fortune swell by $18.5 billion last year.
2. In Mexico, Slim is “Mr. Monopoly”
The Wall Street Journal once quipped that “it’s hard to spend a day in Mexico and not put money in [Slim’s] pocket.” You can barely make a call without doing so: Slim’s phone company Telmex — snapped up on the cheap in 1990 — controls 80 percent of the landlines; its subsidiary América Móbil handles 70 percent of the cell service.
3. He bailed out The New York Times
In addition to owning 6.9 percent of The New York Times Company, Slim loaned the struggling publisher $250 million last year, essentially saving it from financial ruin. Recently, rumors that Slim might buy a controlling stock in the company caused its shares to jump. Slim, however, denies the stories.
4. He loves baseball
While soccer remains Mexico’s most popular sport, Slim has an avid affinity for baseball — especially the New York Yankees. In 1998, he penned an article for a Mexico City magazine about obscure historical baseball figures. And he once agreed to a USA Today interview under the condition that the journalist pass along Slim’s suggestion for “improving” the newspaper’s box scores to his editor.
5. In the U.S., he’d be a “trillionaire”
Carlos Slim’s net worth is equivalent to about 7 percent of Mexico’s GDP. For Bill Gates to have the same grip on the U.S. economy, says Brian Winter in Foreign Policy, he would have to be worth “909 billion” and own “Alcoa, Phillip Morris, Sears, Best Buy, TGIFriday’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, Marriott, Citibank, and JetBlue.”
6. He’s from a Lebanese family
Julian Slim Haddad, Carlos’s father, immigrated to Mexico from Lebanon in 1902 to escape military conscription. He eventually created highly successful import and real estate businesses worth millions. The family of Carlos’ mother, also from Lebanon, settled in Mexico City at the end of the 19th century.
7. He’s famously frugal
From a young age, Slim has practiced legedary financial restraint. He still lives in the same modest 6-bedroom home where he’s resided for the past three decades. His cramped bedroom is “the size of a Manhattan hotel room.” And, despite the prevalence of kidnappings in Mexico, Carlos Slim still drives himself to work.