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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Carlos Slim Helu: the World’s Wealthiest

According to the 2010 Forbes Magazine, telecoms magnate Carlos Slim Helu has snatched the honor of being the wealthiest person in the world from Bill Gates and Warren Buffet with a total worth of US$53.5 billion.

Carlos Slim has risen to fame in world of business when he has led a group of investors including France Télécom and Southwestern Bell Corporation in buying Telmex and Telnor from the Mexican government in 1990. Today, Telmex operates ninety percent of Mexico’s telephone lines while Telcel operates eighty percent of the country’s mobile cellular phone service. Experts believe that revenues from these two companies have helped him with his expansion abroad particularly his dominating wireless carrier América Móvil, which has bought cellular companies across Latin America and boasts of around 100 million subscribers across the region. He also has business interests outside telecommunications.

Slim has a very interesting background…

His father Julian came to Mexico from Lebanon in 1902 to avoid forced military service upon turning fifteen by the Ottoman Empire. He was all alone and had no knowledge of Spanish. He must have gone through unimaginable hard time as a helpless youth in a foreign land. After nine years, he managed to put up a dry goods store, which he named La Estrella del Oriente and bought real estate in Mexico City. After another fifteen years, he married Linda Helú, a daughter of Lebanese immigrants who brought the first Arabic printing press in Mexico. Carlos was their youngest boy.

Carlos Slim went to Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and took engineering. At the age of twenty-six years old, wikipedia said that he had already earned $40 million. Although, they did not include detailed information as to how he managed to earn his first millions.

However, critics of Slim say that He is a monopolist with his telecom company, Telmex, controlling ninety percent of landline telephone service in Mexico. He owns 49.1 percent of the total company shares. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development accuses his company of charging very high usage fees.

According to Wikipedia, Professor Celso Garrido, an economist at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (his Alma Mater) says, “Slim's domination of his country's conglomerates chokes off growth of smaller companies, resulting in a shortage of good jobs and driving many Mexicans to seek better lives north of the Rio Grande”.

Slim says that criticism does not intimidate him. He argues, "When you live for others' opinions, you are dead. I don't want to live thinking about how I'll be remembered."

When press asked him about his ranking by Forbes, he expressed indifference about it and says, “I have no interest in becoming the world's richest person”.

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