THE RICHEST MAN IN THE WORLD. The richest man in the world is no longer Bill Gates. Nor is it Warren Buffett or that guy who founded IKEA. The online Mexican business magazine Sentido Común is reporting (via the Guardian) that a jump in the price of shares of Mexican businessman Carlos Slim's America Movil telecom group makes him almost 10 billion dollars richer than Gates.
Slim (whose full name is actually Carlos Slim Helú) surpassed Buffett, the longstanding second-richest man in the world, three months ago -- a development that was reported by Sentido Común several days before Fortune made the same change in its rankings. Sentido Común now estimates his net worth as $67.8 billion, which is equal to 8 percent of Mexico's GDP.
According to a New York Times article Slim's fortune, which was estimated at $30-40 billion only 13 months ago, comes primarily from his near-monopoly on telephone service across Mexico, where prices for phone service are several times those in the United States. (Mexico has some of the highest phone-service prices in the world.) Slim has also expanded aggressively throughout Latin America and invested in a wide variety of other businesses in the United States and elsewhere.
Indeed, from his cigar-chomping image to his monopolistic businesses, Slim is remarkably reminiscent of an American gilded age tycoon. He seems to recognize this, and spent almost $4 billion on various charitable projects in the run-up to last year's presidential election in Mexico after he was criticized heavily by the narrowly defeated leftist candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador . Assuming he remains the richest, he will face yet more scrutiny, both in Mexico and abroad, so expect to hear more about him.
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