Reading about the successful self-made entrepreneurs is somewhat like sitting through a Master Class – it glorifies the person with accolades and laurels for sure but what it does, more importantly, is give us a filtered yet insightful peek into the inner workings of high-achievers and what makes them want to thrive. One such individual that misses the pop culture radar but shouldn’t is Carlos Slim Helu aka the richest man in the world aka the Warren Buffett of Mexico. This Mexican telecommunications billionaire, shot to fame as he acquired and retained the title of being the richest person in the world between 20102013. The business magnate, investor, and philanthropist has established a kind of monopoly in Mexico (something he is also criticised for) but, haters gonna hate, eh? So here’s a look at the life of the World’s first self-made richest man from a developing country.
Carlos Slim Helu
Who is he? World’s richest person from 2010 to 2013
Net Worth: $70.5 -Billion, #7 Billionaire, #1 in Mexico
Age & Dob: 28 January, 1940, 78 yrs
Education: Civil Engineering, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico
Residence: Mexico City, Mexico
Occupation/Companies: CEO of Telmex, America Movil and Grupo Carso
Source of Wealth: Telecom
Peek into the past
Helu said in an interview that he attributes his success to his father from whom he emulated his entrepreneurial streak. Right from keeping a track of the menial allowance, his father taught him money management. From opening his first savings account at a young age of 10 to now having holdings in numerous Mexican companies, the business magnate was always thoughtful of his money. At 12, he began buying shares of Banco Nacional de México, Mexico’s largest bank. Three years later, he became a shareholder at the bank. Slowly and steadily, Helu began to lay the groundwork for his future companies after starting his career as a stock trader in Mexico, often working for 14-hour days. He learned from his father that it’s essential to continue to invest and re-invest in your businesses even during crises. Time and again, he has recalled his father’s lessons and financial advice such as, “Money that leaves the business evaporates” and “All times are good if you work in the right way.” This conviction showed the result when Mexico’s economy plunged in1982 and he amassed most of his wealth.
By investing his money in undervalued business and buying troubled assets at depressed prices to resell them later at an attractive price is a business strategy that Helu has executed throughout his career. It is sometimes hard to tell where Carlos Helu stops and Mexico City starts. He controls most of the mobile phone, landline and internet markets. Heavily investing and delving into multiple companies along the way, ‘Grupo Carso’, his flagship infrastructure conglomerate, has accumulated a wide range of industries. He accounts for 40% of the listings on the Mexican Stock Exchange and his bank, Inbursa, is Mexico’s sixth largest and he even owns the city’s only aquarium.
Carlos Slim Helu and his family also control America Movil, Latin America’s biggest mobile telecom firm. With foreign telecom partners, Slim bought a stake in Telmex, previously managed by the Mexican Government, which is now part of America Movil. That established his monopoly over the land phone and mobile services market as the company provided telecommunication services to about 80% of the Mexican population. He also owns a 17% stake of ‘The New York Times’. Helu’s real estate holding company ‘Inmobiliaria Carso’ develops, invests, owns and operates many residential and commercial properties across Mexico. The company owns over 20 shopping centers, including ten in Mexico City, and operates stores and a number of mansions in NYC and elsewhere in the USA. As of now, Helu is en tour deconstructing what is likely to be his last great urban intervention massive new airport, expected to be the third-largest in the world.
He might have missed people’s attention when it comes to his humanitarian activities, Carlos Helu Slim is one of the world’s most important philanthropists who was ranked fifth in the ‘Forbes’ World’s Biggest Givers’ in May 2011 and whose charitable donations account for over $4B. He has founded three non-profit foundations outside of which he has made donations to the Clinton Foundation, too. Established in 1989, ‘The Fundación Carlos Slim Helú’ makes generous contributions to museums, healthcare programs, wildlife conservation efforts. It sponsors the ‘Museo Soumaya’ in Mexico City, named after Helu’s late wife, Soumaya Domit. It holds 66,000 pieces including religious relics and collections from the biggest artists of the world In 1995, Helu established ‘Fundación Telmex’, a broad-ranging philanthropic foundation, which had been provided with an asset base of US$4 billion to establish Carso Institutes for Health, Sports and Education. In 2000, Slim organized the ‘Fundación del Centro Histórico de la Ciudad de México A.C.’ and has been the Chairman of the Council for the Restoration of the Historic Downtown of Mexico City since 2001. The Mexico City Historic Center Foundation works to revitalize and rescue Mexico city’s historic downtown area to enable more people to live, work and find entertainment there.