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Carlos Slim is a well-known name in the investment world and often referred to as the Warren Buffet of Mexico. He was the richest man in the world from 2010 to 2013, and he is the only non-US citizen to top the Forbes rich list. At his peak, his net worth was equal to 7.5 percent of Mexico’s entire GDP. This article will explore the life of Carlos Slim, his rise to wealth, and how he controls over 200 companies.
Carlos’s parents were immigrants from Lebanon who migrated to Mexico to avoid being conscripted into the Ottoman army. Carlos’s father’s investments in real estate and success as a retailer and wholesaler made him a wealthy man with a net worth of more than one million pesos. Carlos took an interest in his father’s business and learned the basics of accounting and finance. When Carlos was just 13 years old, his father passed away, and due to his understanding of his father’s business, he took over it.
In 1961, Carlos started to work as a stock trader in Mexico City, and by 1965, he made over 400,000 through trades. He used the money to open his own brokerage firm called Inversora. In 1976, he spent one million dollars to buy a 60% stake in Galas de Mexico, a small printer of labels for cigarette packs.
In the 1980s, Mexico went into a recession due to a debt crisis, and the peso was devalued, causing the Mexican stock market to crash. Carlos acquired the majority stakes of many flagship companies at bargain rates, including one of the country’s largest cigarette manufacturers, Cigata, insurance company Seguros de Mexico, Mexican retail chain Sanborns, and a mining company, Minera Frisco. All these companies were grouped together under conglomerate Grupo Carso, whose turnover today is over five billion dollars per year. The name Carso came from initials from Carlos and from his wife’s name, Soumaya.
In 1990, Carlos gained publicity when he acquired 51% voting control of state-owned telecom company Telmex for 1.8 billion dollars. However, this payment of 1.8 billion dollars became controversial because it took place over the course of several years using revenues from the company itself. Rumors were made at that time that Carlos used his powerful friends in government to get the lucrative deal. Telmex is a private company today, but it controls 90% of landline phones in Mexico. There are other telephone companies in Mexico, but they have failed to compete with Telmex.
In 2000, Carlos spun off Telmex’s wireless business into a new company called America Movil. America Movil’s annual revenue today is 52 billion dollars, and it is the seventh-largest mobile network operator in the world in terms of equity subscribers. Its Mexican subsidiary, Telcel, is the largest mobile operator in that country, commanding a market share of more than 70%.
In 2003, Carlos started to acquire stakes in United States companies like Barnes & Noble, OfficeMax, Office Depot, Circuit City, Borders, and Comp USA. There was a joke made for Carlos that there was nothing left to acquire in Mexico. In 2012, Carlos funded Larry King’s television production studio and on-demand digital television network Aura, which means “now” in Italian. In 2013, America Movil invested 40 million dollars in the British music app Shazam, which was later acquired by Apple for 400 million dollars. America Movil also invested 60 million dollars in the Israeli startup Mobli, a company that developed a visual search engine. Mobli’s technology was later sold to Snap Inc., the parent company of Snapchat.
Carlos Slim is known for his philanthropy work. He founded the Carlos Slim Foundation in 1986, which focuses on education, health, sports, and culture. In 2007, he donated 100 million dollars to establish the Carlos Slim Institute of Health in Mexico City, which focuses on research and education in healthcare. He also donated 2 billion dollars to establish the Soumaya Museum in Mexico City, named after his wife. The museum houses over 66,000 pieces of art, including works by European masters like Auguste Rodin and Salvador Dali.
Carlos Slim is a private person and rarely gives interviews to the media. He is married to Soumaya Domit, who passed away in 1999. They had six children together. He has a degree in civil engineering from the National Autonomous University of Mexico and was awarded an honorary doctorate from George Washington University.
Carlos Slim’s story is one of rags-to-riches. He started with his father’s small business and went on to build a conglomerate of over 200 companies with interests in various sectors like telecom, mining, retail, and finance. He is one of the most successful businessmen in the world, and his philanthropy work has earned him respect and admiration from people across the globe. Today, Carlos Slim’s net worth is estimated at over 60 billion dollars, and he continues to be an active investor and philanthropist.
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