Usually, we are familiar with wealthy people who are from our countries or so popular that it is impossible not to know about them.
However, did you know there are over 500 million people in the world who are billionaires? Let’s not talk about millionaires, then.
Carlos Slim is part of the first group, and although he is known by many, he is often eclipsed by people like Sergey Bring, Jeff Bezos, or maybe Elon Musk. In other words, you wouldn’t think about him first when it comes to billionaires and the wealthiest people in the world, but you could and sometimes should.
Now, what made this man one of the wealthiest people? Is he an entrepreneur like others and the usual magnate we all know about? Or is there something special you should know about the person and business?
Here, we will get to know Carlos’s story and determine where and how he built the current empire. Embrace yourself because this will be a wild ride!
Who Is Carlos Slim? – Early Years
Carlos Slim Helú was born in Mexico City on January 28, 1940. He is the son of Lebanese immigrant parents Julián Slim Haddad and Linda Helú Atta. He has been nicknamed “the Warren Buffett of Latin America.”
His father’s first job in Mexico was as a carpenter, and he later became an entrepreneur with diverse holdings from construction to real estate development.
His father taught him many business lessons as a child, including management, finance, and accounting. Practical skills like reading financial statements and maintaining accurate financial records were also included during his learning.
At the age of 11, Slim invested in government savings bonds. This is where he discovered a compound interest and learned more than the basics about it.
When he was 12, he bought his first stock and, by the age of 15, was a shareholder at Mexico’s biggest bank.
He worked for his father’s business during his teenage years, earning 200 pesos per week (about $10).
When going to college, he decided to study civil engineering at Mexico’s National Autonomous University.
After graduating from university, Slim began his business career as a stock trader in Mexico.
From College to Rising Magnate
In 1965, Slim’s private investments had generated over $400,000 in profits, which he used for the founding of Inversora Bursatil, a stock brokerage.
He began to lay the foundations for Grupo Carso, which he purchased in 1965 from Jarritos del Sur. Inmobiliaria Carso was founded by him in 1966 and was valued at $40 million.
Carlos continued to work on expanding his business in many industries, including auto parts, aluminum, and airlines, chemicals, and tobacco, paper, packaging, tires, and retail.
He was particularly interested in acquiring companies in construction, mining, printing, real-estate, bottling, and soft drink industries.
He had already acquired seven companies in these areas by 1972. In 1976, he purchased a 60% stake in Galas de Mexico, a cigarette label printer, for $1 million. All of these interests were formed under Grupo Galas, his parent company.
Slim used the strategy of buying low and selling it later for a profit, or keeping it as cash flow, to be able to invest heavily in many businesses and purchase large amounts of them during the Mexican economic downturn from 1982 to 1985.
His companies, Corporacion Industrial Cardo & Grupo Inbursa, were merged into the huge conglomerate Grupo Carso in 1990.
After Mexico privatized its telecom sector in the 1990s, Grupo Carso made a huge profit by acquiring ownership or stakes in companies.
In the 2000s, Slim began to shift his focus on American businesses. He purchased large stakes in major US retailers like OfficeMax, Circuit City, and Barnes & Noble.
He also purchased a 6.4% stake in the New York Times Company during the 2008 global financial crisis. This increased his stake to 8% in 2012 and to 16.8% in 2015, making him the company’s largest shareholder to this date.
Slim holds a significant influence on the Mexican telecommunications industry and many other Latin American countries.
He is the CEO of Teléfonos De Mexico and TelCel. His telecommunications empire has expanded internationally with the 2014 acquisition of Telekom Austria. He has made numerous investments in technology-related ventures over the years.
For example, Grupo Carso launched the online music service Claro Musica, in January 2015, as a Latin American equivalent/competitor to services such as iTunes and Spotify. America Movil invested $40 million in Shazam, a British mobile-based musical identification system.
Inmobiliaria Carso, Slim’s real-estate holding company, also owns more than 20 shopping centers, including ten located in Mexico City.
It also owns and manages numerous commercial and residential properties in Mexico. Slim is not only an investor in real estate but also manages Mexican prisons.
He started this business in April 2013 to increase his investments in his construction finance company. It also has other infrastructure assets such as toll roads and hydroelectric dams.
Let’s Talk About Money: How Much Does He Earn?
By just reading all the companies, businesses, and niches he has covered over the years, you can expect a big fortune behind this man’s life, which is why he is considered (with more than simple proof) one of the wealthiest people in the worth.
According to Forbes, Carlos Slim’s net worth is set at $74.7 billion to this date, and he has worked a lot to make those billions.
Slim is involved in hundreds of companies through Grupo Carso SAB.
His global conglomerate has been a significant shareholder in many other companies. Grupo Carso owns or had stakes in many companies, including Elementia, the largest Mexican cement company, and retail, such as Sears and Saks Fifth Avenue.
Grupo Carso also has shares in automotive, and energy, and construction.
Telecommunications is perhaps the most important source of Slim’s wealth since he is the owner and operator of America Movil (formerly Teléfonos de Mexico or Telmex). The latter was a monopoly that has existed in Mexico for many years.
Slim owns a 57% stake in America Movil. Also, he has large stakes at Grupo Financiero Inbursa, a banking and insurance company, and Grupo Carso Holdings.
He also holds other stakes in Minera Frisco as well as the New York Times, hitting 17% for the latter.
Considering how he has transferred stakes to his six children, many would believe his fortune would go down to millions. However, this fortune is considered to be of the entire family, and Carlos is still the patriarch of the fortune.
He gets credit for their billions (as he should), and he has received more than $7 billion in dividends over the last decade.
Although he is 81 years old now in 2021, this man continues aiming for more and making sure his business remains strong.
Since over six years ago, Slim has been part of the top 20 billionaires and powerful people worldwide, standing at #16 in Forbes.
Despite the group’s decline in 2020 due to the pandemic, the company came back from $50 billion to what it is today, making Carlos another top in the billionaires’ world.
Carlos Slim Social Impact: Philanthropic at Its Best?
With his fortune, you would expect this magnate to give as much as he can, and he partially does.
Slim has stated many times that education and work are the only way to lift people out of poverty and guarantee they can have a life out of the streets, make a living, and won’t fall prey to misfortune in terms of economy and financial status.
However, if there’s something people know about Carlos, he also seems to denigrate the philanthropy of many wealthy in the world, leading to declining to take part in the Giving Pledge campaign initiated by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett.
Slim doesn’t really need to take part in those campaigns and foundations whatsoever. He has quietly become one of the most prominent philanthropists in the world over the past five years.
He more than doubled the endowment for his main philanthropic vehicles Fundación Carlos Slim and Fundación Telmex, to $8 billion, and gave another $600 million to support efforts to eradicate blight in Mexico City.
He has also given more than $200 million to Latin America’s anti-poverty programs, and for it, Slim partnered with Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation.
His impact on society as a billionaire and philanthropist is noticeable, and people cannot argue that he cares about others.
However, many are against his beliefs since they think it isn’t that simple to build more jobs and give everyone one, but Carlos doesn’t think in this way (and we kind of have to agree with what Slim believes).
Giving is amazing, but being able to provide stability in other ways is key for people to find financial resources and start working for what they are worth and aim for more than what a foundation can give them. Being the stepping stone can be it, but Slim strongly believes that giving them everything isn’t possible or productive.
An Inspiration to Make Money
If we focus on Carlos and what he thinks is the best approach, we actually consider it is the best.
In fact, we share the last part about being a stepping stone and give, but not everything.
Instead, we are in pro of providing jobs and giving people opportunities to prove themselves and give more than money when they could even get more with their own work.
It is important to have people be independent, and Slim believes this.
This is why it is crucial to find opportunities, be like him in terms of betting for businesses, be interested in working, and aim for more by being more ambitious than usual.
However, indeed, it isn’t simple to invest in new businesses without money, and even with it, you can lose it when not being careful enough or considering ideas that re actually work your money and time.
Telecommunications are a bit saturated, in our opinion. Unless you can bring a big change, it will be hard to have space in this niche.
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