Carlos Slim Helú is a 79 year old Mexican billionaire, worth an estimated $60.5 billion as of July, 2019. He and his family owns the America Movil, which is the largest mobile phone operator currently in operation in Latin America. Slim holds stakes in Mexican construction, consumer goods, mining and real estate companies and The New York Times. He was ranked as the richest person in the world by the Forbes business magazine  from 2010 to 2013.

Carlos Slim Helú ; Image Source: businessinsider.com

Carlos Slim was born on January 28, 1940, in Mexico, to Julián Slim Haddad and Linda Helú Atta, a Christian Lebanese family who were immigrants to Mexico. His father, Julián Slim Haddad, became successful in real estate business during Mexican Revolution.

Carlos learnt his primary business lessons during early childhood, as his father gave Carlos and his siblings a small book on savings. He used to give them weekly allowance in order to let them learn how to manage income and expenses. They reviewed the book and learnt to analyze their expenses, purchases and activities. And that’s how Carlos and his siblings managed their finances and gained wealth.

Carlos Slim Helú with his parents and five siblings; Image Source: carlosslim.com.     

He learnt the concept of compound interest by investing in government savings bond at the age of 11. At the age of 12, he put his first business lessons into practice by buying shares of Banco Nacional de México. Unfortunately, his father died in 1953 and Slim had to continue working in his father’s business till 17.

Carlos studied civil engineering at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.There he was both student and professor as he also taught Algebra and Linear Programming besides studying. In 1961, Slim completed his professional studies and began his career as a stock trader in Mexico. By 1965, the capital had grown by $400000 that allowed him to incorporate Inversora Bursátil.

By acquiring Jarritos del Sur and incorporating Inmobiliaria Carso, he began to establish Grupo Carso. He incorporated the company in January, 1966. After three months of the incorporation, he got married with Soumaya Domit Gemayel. The name Carso combined the first syllables of Carlos and Soumaya.

Image Source: bankkita.com

He continued expanding business by establishing and purchasing companies in various industrial, real estate and commercial fields during 1970s. By 1980, he had formed the parent company ‘Grupo Galas’ to bring all of his holdings together.

In 1982, the fall in oil prices made Mexico plunge into an economic crisis. But in this time of crisis, Slim acquired billionaire status as he gathered a lot of his wealth. The Mexican government defaulted on its foreign debts, nationalized banks and many Mexican investors rushed to expatriate their capital.

Slim purchased a variety of companies at bargain prices controlling interests and managed them so effectively that within the span of a decade, their aggregate value soared up. He purchased the Mexican affiliates of Reynolds Aluminum, General Tire and the Sanborn’s chain of stores and cafeterias. Slim increased his acquisition efforts when the economy got recovered.

He gained large shares in the Mexican branches of international companies like Firestone tires, Hershey’s chocolate, Denny’s coffee shops. He purchased and merged a number of insurance companies into the giant firm Seguros Inbursa.

In 1990, ‘Grupo Carso’ became a public company worldwide with an Initial Public Offering. At year-end, the group got TELMEX in partnership with SBC and France Telecom making the $1.76 billion purchase. And so Carso Global Telecom was created which was  the holding company for Telmex. TELMEX developed a world-class platform for technology. It strengthened the corporate culture over the course of 20 years. TELMEX invested US$27.692 billion in Mexico’s telecommunications infrastructure and US$32 million working in Latin America.   

In 2001, América Móvil became a separate company which was the mobile-telephone division of Telmex. América Móvil gained a spectacular growth and gradually became one of the largest telecommunications companies in the world. América Móvil purchased its former parent in 2011.

In the year 2000, Slim acquired the afflicted electronics products and services company CompUSA and sold it in 2009 as it was not profitable. By 2010, he became the largest shareholder in the New York Times Company, the financial conglomerate Citigroup, the luxury retailer Saks, and the consumer electronics retailer Circuit City. Aiming at Mexican-American audience, América Móvil launched Nuestra Vision, a Spanish-language television network in 2017.

Slim married Soumaya Domit in 1967 and they had six children together. In 1999, his wife died. Being an art collector and philanthropist, Slim founded a not-for-profit art museum in Mexico, named Museo Soumaya, in 1994. He also established  the Foundation for the Historic Centre of Mexico City to revitalize the historic center of Mexico City.

Carlos Slim Helu received the Hadrian Award from the World Monuments Fund in 2004 for his efforts to preserve culturally significant buildings in Mexico. His philanthropic effort includes Fundación Carlos Slim Helú, Fundación Telmex and Fundación del Centro Histórico de la Ciudad de México A.C. that focus on arts, education, and health care, sports and downtown restoration. In 2009, through Grameen Trust and Fundacion, Carlos Slim announced an Alliance of Grameen-Carso, that would serve the neediest in Mexico with micro credits.

Carlos Slim with economist Muhammad Yunus; Image Source: carlosslim.com. 

Despite owning over 200 businesses in a wide variety of industries and being named Slimlandia by Forbes magazine, Carlos lives a pretty frugal life. He has lived in the same six bedroom house for more than 40 years!

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