Carlos Slim Helú, a Mexican business magnate, investor, and philanthropist, has made a significant impact on the business world. From being ranked as the richest person in the world to his extensive holdings in various industries, Slim’s success story is remarkable. This article delves into Slim’s business career, highlighting his early life, his conglomerate Grupo Carso, and his expansion into the global market.
Early Life And Business Lessons
Slim was born on January 28, 1940, in Mexico City, to Lebanese parents. From a young age, he showed an interest in business and received valuable lessons from his father, focusing on financial management and accounting techniques. Slim’s understanding of financial statements and the importance of accurate record-keeping laid the foundation for his future success.
Building A Business Empire
After graduating from university in 1961, Slim began his business career as a stock trader in Mexico. Working long hours, he quickly made a name for himself in the Mexican business world. In 1965, Slim established Inversora Bursátil, a stock brokerage house, and laid the groundwork for his conglomerate, Grupo Carso. He also acquired Jarritos del Sur, a Mexican bottling and soft drink company, and established Inmuebles Carso, a real estate agency and holding company.
Diversifying Business Operations
Throughout the 1970s, Slim expanded his business operations across various industries in Mexico. He ventured into construction, soft drinks, printing, real estate, bottling, and mining, among others. Slim’s strategy involved buying businesses and retaining them for their cash flow or selling them at a higher profit in the future. This approach, combined with Grupo Carso’s conglomerate structure, made his business nearly recession-proof.
Expanding Into Global Markets
In the 1990s, Slim’s business empire expanded beyond Latin America and into the global market. One of his significant achievements was acquiring Telmex, the landline telephone operator, from the Mexican government during the privatization of Mexico’s telecom industry. Telmex, along with his wireless telecommunications company Telcel, formed the backbone of his private fortune. By 2006, Telmex controlled 90% of Mexico’s telephone lines and Telcel operated 80% of the country’s cellphones.
Entering The United States Market
In the late 1990s, Slim set his sights on the United States as a destination for potential foreign investment acquisitions and business opportunities. While the majority of his business holdings remained in Mexico, he recognized the potential for growth and success in the US market. This expansion marked a significant milestone in Slim’s career, as he sought to diversify his portfolio and establish a presence on a global scale.
Expansion Into US Retail Market
In the early 2000s, Slim made headlines by purchasing significant stakes in several major US retailers. This move included acquiring shares in Barnes & Noble, OfficeMax, Office Depot, Circuit City, Borders, and CompUSA. Slim’s international expansion beyond Mexico was driven by the belief that there were limited acquisition opportunities left in Mexico. This foray into the US retail market demonstrated Slim’s strategic vision and willingness to diversify his portfolio.
Investments In Telecommunications
Slim’s telecommunications empire, América Móvil, continued to expand during this period. In 2000, América Móvil was incorporated as the holding company for Telmex, which spun off its international cellular phone division. América Móvil went on to acquire stakes in various international cellular phone operators outside of Mexico, including ATL and Telecom Americas in Brazil, Techtel in Argentina, and others in Guatemala and Ecuador. This expansion allowed Slim to establish a significant presence in Latin America’s telecommunications market.
Venturing Into Other Industries
Slim’s business interests extended beyond telecommunications. In 2005, he invested in Volaris, a Mexican airline, demonstrating his willingness to diversify his holdings. Additionally, Slim established Impulsora del Desarrollo y el Empleo en América Latina (IDEAL), a construction and civil engineering company primarily engaged in not-for-profit infrastructure development. IDEAL won several infrastructure contracts, although it faced competition from other Mexican and Spanish construction companies.
Broadcasting And Media Ventures
Slim also made notable investments in broadcasting and media during the 2010s. In 2012, he sold the broadcast rights for Leon soccer games to Telemundo, Fox Sports, and the website mediotiempo.com. Slim’s involvement in broadcasting extended beyond Mexico, as his company América Móvil acquired the broadcast rights for the Olympic Games in Sochi 2014 and Brazil 2016 for Latin America. He also co-founded Ora TV, an on-demand digital television network, with Larry King, producing and distributing television shows.
Slim’s interest in sports extended to ownership stakes in Mexican soccer teams. In 2012, through América Móvil, he acquired 30% stakes in Pachuca and León. He also purchased all the shares of Estudiantes Tecos, a second division team. Slim’s involvement in sports extended to securing television rights for games of the Leon soccer team, putting him in competition with other major television companies in Mexico.
Investments In Technology And Startups
Slim made notable investments in technology and startups during this period. In 2013, his company America Movil invested $40 million in Shazam, a mobile phone-based music identification service, to aid its growth in advertising and television in Latin America. He also invested $60 million in the Israeli startup Mobli, which focused on connecting people and communities based on shared interests.
Family And Personal Life
Carlos Slim Helú was born on January 28, 1940, in Mexico City, Mexico. He was the son of Julián Slim Haddad and Linda Helú Atta. His father, Julián, was a successful businessman who had emigrated from Lebanon to Mexico in 1902. Julián established a dry goods retail store called La Estrella de Oriente and made astute investments in real estate during the Mexican Revolution.
Carlos Slim married Soumaya Domit Gemayel in 1967, and they had six children together: Carlos, Marco Antonio, Patrick, Soumaya, Vanessa, and Johanna. Soumaya was actively involved in philanthropic projects, and her death in 1999 was a great loss for the family.
Slim’s children have played significant roles in his business empire, with his three older sons holding key positions in the companies controlled by Slim. They are actively involved in the day-to-day operations of his businesses.
Slim underwent heart surgery in 1999 but has since recovered. In his personal life, he is known for his simplicity and frugality. He keeps all his financial data in handwritten notebooks and does not use a computer in his office. Despite his immense wealth, Slim maintains a humble lifestyle.
Slim is a Maronite Catholic and a prominent supporter of the Legion of Christ, a Roman Catholic religious institute. He has been involved in various philanthropic endeavors, focusing on education, healthcare, and cultural preservation.
Carlos Slim Helú’s Net Worth
Carlos Slim Helú’s wealth has made him one of the richest individuals in the world. He has consistently ranked among the top billionaires on Forbes’ annual list. In 2007, Slim surpassed Warren Buffett as the world’s second-richest person, with an estimated net worth of $53.1 billion. He later overtook Bill Gates to become the world’s richest person in 2007 and 2010.
Slim’s net worth has fluctuated over the years, influenced by changes in the value of his holdings in publicly traded companies. In 2014, Forbes listed his net worth at $79.6 billion, making him the wealthiest person in the world at that time. However, his net worth has varied in subsequent years, with Forbes estimating it at $88.4 billion in 2023.
Real Estate Ventures
In addition to his business interests, Slim has been an active real estate investor. His company, Inmobiliaria Carso, has developed, invested in, and operated numerous residential and commercial real estate properties in Mexico since the 1960s. Plaza Carso, located in Mexico City, serves as the headquarters for many of his businesses.
Slim has also made private real estate investments internationally, particularly in Spain and the United States. He owns the Duke Seamans mansion, a prestigious property on 5th Avenue in New York City. He also purchased the Marquette Building in Detroit and the former PepsiCo Americas Beverages headquarters in Somers, New York.
Carlos Slim Helú has expressed his support for philanthropy and believes that businessmen should participate in solving social problems. While he has not pledged to give away at least half of his fortune like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, he has devoted a significant portion of his wealth to charitable causes.
Fundación Carlos Slim
Established in 1986, Fundación Carlos Slim sponsors the Museo Soumaya in Mexico City, named after Slim’s late wife, Soumaya Domit. The museum houses an extensive art collection, including works by renowned artists such as Rodin, Salvador Dalí, Leonardo da Vinci, and Pablo Picasso. The foundation has also donated billions of dollars to various projects, including education and healthcare initiatives. For example, they have provided funds to perform cataract surgeries in Peru and have made significant contributions to improve healthcare access and quality.
Slim established Fundación Telmex in 1995, which is a philanthropic foundation with a focus on health, sports, and education. The foundation has invested billions of dollars in initiatives to support the people of Latin America. They have organized Copa Telmex, an amateur sports tournament, recognized by Guinness World Records for having the most participants. Additionally, Fundación Telmex has sponsored various sports programs in Mexico, from grassroots to Olympic level. They have also made substantial donations to the Clinton Foundation.
Fundación del Centro Histórico de la Ciudad de México A.C
Slim has been the Chair of the Council for the Restoration of the Historic Downtown of Mexico City since 2001. He has funded the construction of Plaza Mariana, a complex near the Basilica de Guadalupe, which includes an evangelization center, museum, columbarium, health center, and market.
Carlos Slim Helú’s philanthropy and contributions to various fields have been recognized through numerous awards and honors. Some of the notable awards he has received include the Entrepreneurial Merit Medal of Honor from Mexico’s Chamber of Commerce, the Golden Plate Award from the American Academy of Achievement, and the CEO of the Year and CEO of the Decade awards from Latin Trade magazine. His philanthropic efforts have also been acknowledged, with Fundación Telmex receiving the National Sports Prize of Mexico for sports promotion. Slim has been awarded honorary doctorates and prestigious honors, such as The National Order of the Cedar from the Lebanese government and the Sophia Award for Excellence from the Queen Sofía Spanish Institute.