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DEFINITION of 'Carlos Slim'

Carlos Slim is a magnate of the Mexican telecommunications industry. Slim made his early wealth in the stock market and has held controlling interests in many companies over the years, most significantly Telmex and America Movil, which together account for most of the land lines and cell phones in Mexico. He has also held major investments in Apple, the New York Times Company, Saks, Grupo Carso, Inbursa, Ideal, CompUSA and MCI, among others.


Slim's wealth is comparable to that of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, yet he is relatively unknown outside of Latin America. In 2016, the Forbes annual billionaire list ranked him as the fourth wealthiest man in the world with a net worth of $60.3 billion in April 2016. One year earlier, the same list ranked Slim as the second richest man in the world with a net worth of $77.1 billion.

How Carlos Slim Built His Fortune

In 1965, Slim began setting the stage for what would become Grupo Carso by incorporating the stock brokerage Inversora Bursatil and the real estate company Inmuebles Carso. Through these two corporations, Slim started several subsidiaries and acquired several companies in the construction, soft drink, printing, real estate, tobacco and mining industries. He formed the private conglomerate Grupo Carso in 1980.

During Mexico's economic crisis in the 1980's, Slim made several acquisitions, including 40% of British American Tobacco in 1984 and 50% of Hershey's. In 1990, Grupo Carso went public with an initial public offering (IPO) and won a bid to acquire Telmex jointly with Southwestern Bell and France Telecom. By becoming the major stakeholder of Telmex, the old telephone monopoly in Mexico, Slim was able to amass a large portion of his fortune and acquire stakes in telephone operations in other countries. Through his cellular company America Movil, Slim acquired equity stakes in cellular telephone companies around the world. In 2012, America Movil took over Telmex and turned the latter into a privately-held subsidiary.

As of 2015, America Movil provides services to 286 million wireless subscribers and 81 million landlines throughout several countries, including Austria, Argentina, Ecuador, the Netherlands and the United States.

Why Carlos Slim's Net Worth Has Decreased

The fall from the second spot to the fourth spot in Forbes annual billionaire list can be traced to two main reasons.

First, a combination of bad performance, devaluation of the Mexican peso, and deregulation of the Mexican cellphone industry contributed to America Movil's first quarterly loss in almost 14 years, in the third quarter of 2015. The weak performance of America Movil's operations throughout 2014 and 2015 has affected the price of its U.S.-traded stock. From a peak price of $26.36 on Sept. 5, 2014, the stock has depreciated 40.7% in value as of Apr. 13, 2016.

Second, Slim was affected by the fall in gold prices , which reached a six-year low in December 2015. Slim owns 80% of the mining company Minera Frisco, whose stock price has dropped over 53% between the April 2014 and April 2016 period.

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