Carlos Slim: The Three-time World’s Richest Man, Early Life, Investment Life and Net Worth

Many businesses choose to have a particular line of focus in order to properly channel their resources and make a profit. Not Carlos Slim, a Mexican business magnate, entrepreneur, investor, engineer, and philanthropist whose conglomerate covers a majority of industries in the business sector including finance, transportation, industrial manufacturing, retail, sports, telecommunications, real estate, and education. A ‘Jack of all trades’ and a master of all. For three consecutive years (2010 to 2013) Slim was named the richest person in the world by Forbes. He ranks No.17 on the Forbes 2020 World's Billionaires list. He has a net worth of $53.1 as of May 27, 2020. He is also the largest single shareholder of The New York Times. According to Forbes, Slim’s fortune is both stemmed from his business deals and political connections as well.

Early life and education

Carlos Slim Helu was born on the 28th of January 1940 to Julian Slim Haddad and Linda Helu Atta in Mexico City. Like most successful business founders, Slim had a keen interest in business and began to develop his interest. His father took him lessons in management, finance, and accounting, and bookkeeping at an early age. With the little knowledge of finance and business he received from his father, he was able to invest in a government savings bond at the age of 11. Asides the interest he would receive from the investment, the investment also provided him an opportunity to learn about compound interest. He had a personal ledger where he daily saved all his business transaction records, a practice he still keeps to till date. By 12, he was ready to start purchasing shares, he purchased shares in a Mexican bank, which officially made it his first stock purchase. Two years later, Slim had moved on from merely purchasing stocks to being a shareholder in the largest bank in Mexico. Contributing to interest in purchasing stocks, was the death of his father when he was 13.

He took up his first job at the age of 17, working at his father’s company where he earned 200 pesos per week. He later enrolled at the National Autonomous University of Mexico to study civil engineering. In his free time, he taught algebra and linear programming. After his graduation from the University, he moved to Chile where he took up courses in economics. His economics certification and experience linear programming help set him on the right path towards going further into the business world and reading financial statements.


Career History

By 1961, after Slim had graduated from college, he got a job as a stock trader in Mexico. Asides his work, Slim had other private investments, and by 1965 his total profits from the investment had amounted to $400,000. With his profits, he started Invesora Bursatil, a stock brokage; still within that year, he bought Jarritos del Sur. And by the following year, he founded Inmobiliaria Carso, a company worth $40 million.

By the 1970s, Slim had expanded his business focus to companies which specialized in real estate, construction, mining, and bottling. Along the line, other industries were included in his focus, companies such as paper and packaging, tires, cement, retail, tobacco, auto parts, etc., his business expansion were done through his company, Grupo Financiero Inbursa. Majorly, the company is concerned with insurance, investments, savings, mutual funds, and pension plans. Slim’s conglomerate allows him to buy stakes in almost every business sector, that way, when there is a recession or if any business sector faces an economic downturn, Slim’s conglomerate will still stay active unaffected by the losses. Though some of his stocks may lose value in the market, however, a financial downturn in one industry wouldn’t affect the others in the conglomerate. That way Slim would always remain at the top of his game.

In 1976, Slim acquired 60% (worth $1 million) shares of Galas de Mexico—a company that printed cigarette-pack labels. Four years later, in 1980, he started Grupo Galas, a company that had a particular interest in mining, construction, retail, tobacco, and food. At a reduced price, Slim owned a majority stake at Ciggaros la Tabacelera Mexicana which was the second-largest producer of cigarettes as of 1981.

By the early1980s, the Mexican economy began taken a downturn as a lot of banks were financially unstable and many foreign investors were withdrawing. Slim stepped in and acquired many firms at low values. The strategy was to buy as many flagship companies as possible at a decreased value, and later resell them at a higher price by the time the economy stabilized. He has applied this investment strategy in all business deals to date. The basic idea was to buy undervalued businesses with high returns potentials, run them for a while until cash flow or simply sell them off when their value increases at higher prices.

As a businessman with a keen eye for value and profit, Slim reinvested the profits gotten from his businesses back into the businesses alongside other external investments. By the 1980s, Slim’s conglomerate had expanded to having tobacco and retail stores subsidiaries.

After the Mexican government had privatized America Movil, a telecommunications company, Slim through his Grupo Carso conglomerate absorbed the company. It has since then become one of the major sources of Slim’s celebrated wealth. In 2012, America Movil gained control of Telmex, another telecommunication company and made it a subsidiary to Slim’s America Movil. As of 2012, Telcel controlled about 70% of the market in mobile phone lines and 80% of landlines in Mexico. America Movil invested $40 million in Shazam, a phone-based music identification service, in July 2013. By investing in the company America Movil was going to boost its growth and recognition levels, as well as increase its value enough to bring in good profits.

By 2015, Slim went fully into oil and gas, Carso Oil & Gas. Merged into this new company were Carso Infraestructura, Construccion y Perforacion, and Condumex Perforanciones.


Investments from the early 2000s

     Barnes & Noble, OfficeMax, Office Depot, CompUSA, and Circuit City (2003)

     Volaris, a Mexican airline (2005)

     Cigatam Tobacco Company (2007)

     New York Times (2008)

     Tabasco Oil Co., (2011)

     Pachuca and Leon, Mexican soccer teams (September 2012): Investment made through America Movil

     Mexican prisons for management and business purposes (April 2013)

     Shazam, a phone-base music identification service company (July 2013): Investment made through America Movil

     Mobil, an Israeli startup which deals with connecting people and communities with similar interests (November 2013)

     WellAware, an oil and gas software developer based in Texas (July 2014)

     IMatchative, a financial-based technology startup (July 25, 2015): Investment made through Control Empresarial de Capitales

     Philosophy Jr., a fashion line for young women (September 8, 2015)

Over the years to date, Slim’s conglomerate has successfully thrived by expanding its business tentacles all through the business sphere and made necessary investments and reinvestments overtime to keep the profits rolling in. Slim may be a ‘Jack of all trades’ but in the end, he is the master of all.

Net Worth 

As of December 5, 2019, Carlos Slim is worth 60.7 billion USD, but he could be worth more because he has many investments that are unaccounted for at this moment. He is the king of business takeovers, an avid investor and a man who runs multiple businesses. Also, he is considered to be frugal because he lives in the same cheap home for 40 years.

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