Meet Carlos Slim, the richest person in Mexico, who’s worth at least $55 billion and owns an $80 million mansion in New York City

  • Carlos Slim is the richest person in Mexico, worth an estimated $55.2 billion, according to Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index.
  • He ranks among the top 10 richest people in the world.
  • The 79-year-old Mexican billionaire controls America Movil, the largest mobile-phone operator in Latin America, and holds stakes in several other publicly traded companies, including The New York Times.

Carlos Slim Helu, Mexico’s wealthiest man and one of the richest self-made billionaires in the world, flies under the radar more than you might expect, considering he’s involved in hundreds of companies in Mexico, which is also known as “Slimlandia.”

Slim’s influence is far-reaching in Mexico and abroad. Bloomberg estimates Slim’s net worth to be at least $55.2 billion, but he could be worth as much as $64 billion, according to Forbes.

Here’s how Slim built up his massive business empire.


Carlos Slim is worth at least $55 billion, making him the richest person in Mexico.

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Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Source: Bloomberg


He’s among the 10 richest people in the world. Bloomberg ranks him at No. 10 with an estimated net worth of $55.2 billion, while Forbes put him at No. 5 with an estimated net worth of $64 billion.

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Rob Kim/Getty Images)

Source: Bloomberg, Forbes


Most of Slim’s wealth comes from his 57% stake in America Movil, the biggest mobile-phone operator in Latin America.

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America Movil celebrate their listing on the New York Stock Exchange by ringing the opening bell in February 2001 in New York.
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Getty Images

Source: Bloomberg


He also has holdings in banking and mining …

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Eloy Alonso/ Reuters

Source: Bloomberg


… as well as interests in the construction industry in Mexico through the family’s business, infrastructure, construction, and energy conglomerate, Grupo Carso. Slim’s son, Carlos Slim Domit, is now chairman of the board at Grupo Carso.

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Carlos Slim speaks with his son and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Grupo Carso, Carlos Slim Domit, in Mexico City in February 2018.
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REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

Source: Bloomberg


Slim holds stakes in several other publicly traded companies, including Caixabank and The New York Times.

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Andrew Burton/Getty

Source: Bloomberg


Bloomberg estimates that Slim has raked in nearly $10 billion in dividends from his investments.

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Carlos Slim at The New York Times New Work Summit in February 2016 in Half Moon Bay, California.
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Kimberly White/Getty Images for New York Times

Source: Bloomberg


Slim was born to Lebanese immigrant parents in Mexico City in 1940. His father taught him to read financial documents and invest at a young age.

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ITU/ YouTube

Source: Wealth-X, Telegraph UK


Slim’s father was successful in both retail and real estate, and Carlos inherited his business after his death in 1953.

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Slim’s parents.
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ITU/ YouTube

Source: Wealth-X


Slim holds a deep love for his country. “Mexico is so rich in culture and history, and I have always enjoyed that,” he told the Telegraph.

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Slim was born in Mexico City in 1940.
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Wikimedia Commons

Source: Telegraph UK


Slim went to college at Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, or UNAM, Mexico’s National Autonomous University. He studied civil engineering and graduated in 1961. Soon after, he founded his first company, Inversora Bursatil, an insurance company.

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The library at UNAM.
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Wikimedia Commons

Source: Wealth-X


Though Slim is known best as the chief shareholder of America Movil and the founder of the Grupo Carso conglomerate, his riches also result from many other business ventures. Slim spent much of the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s building a diverse portfolio that now dominates the Mexican economy.

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OMAR TORRES/AFP/Getty Images

Source: Wealth-X


Slim has a foolproof strategy for making money: He acquires struggling companies and transforms them into multibillion-dollar holdings before selling his stake at a profit. In particular, he took advantage of the Mexican debt crisis in 1982 in order to purchase many deflated companies.

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JORGE UZON/AFP/Getty Images

Source: Wealth-X, Investopedia


We saw Slim’s strategy firsthand in the US in 2009, when he loaned $250 million to The New York Times at a 14% interest rate. Slim saw the deal as a business venture, rather than a foray into journalism.

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Lucas Jackson/ Reuters

Source: American Journalism Review, Business Insider


But Slim announced in 2017 that he would sell almost half his shares by 2020 and in 2018 alone, he sold at least $86 million worth of his shares.

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Kimberly White/Getty Images for New York Times

Source: Barron’s


Slim first entered the international spotlight in 1991 when he appeared on Forbes’ billionaires list with a net worth of $1.7 billion. The previous year, he saw his first big success when Grupo Carso went public and led the privatization of state phone company Telmex.

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ITU Pictures/ Flickr

Source: Forbes


In 2010, Slim surpassed Bill Gates as the richest man in the world; it was the first time in 16 years that the world’s richest man wasn’t from the US. Though Bill Gates is once again richer than Slim and Jeff Bezos reigns as the world’s richest person, Slim is the wealthiest person in Mexico by far.

Source: Wealth-X, Forbes


The next-richest person in Mexico is Ricardo Salinas, worth $10.7 billion, who owns the majority of two publicly traded companies: Grupo Elektra, a retail and banking conglomerate, and TV Azteca, a Spanish-language broadcaster.

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Ricardo Salinas is the second-richest person in Mexico.
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ERIC PIERMONT/AFP/Getty Images

Source: Bloomberg


Slim’s presence is all over Mexico. As The Guardian reported, “It is sometimes hard to tell where Carlos Slim stops and Mexico City starts. He controls most of the mobile phone, landline and internet markets. His telecoms company, Telmex, installed the city’s surveillance cameras. Grupo Carso, his flagship infrastructure conglomerate, runs the city’s principal water treatment plant. His bank, Inbursa, is Mexico’s. He even owns the city’s only aquarium.”

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Fred Prouser/ Getty/ Daniel Aguilar/ Getty

Source: Wealth-X, The Guardian


Slim’s critics accuse him of being a monopolist whose practices drive prices and unemployment through the roof. The billionaire doesn’t let criticism bother him: “When you live for others’ opinions, you are dead,” he said. “I don’t want to live thinking about how I’ll be remembered.”

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Michael Fleshman/ Flickr

Source: Wealth-X, Business Insider, Forbes, Investopedia


In fact, Slim has no need to cater to public opinion; his wealth has granted him political influence to the extent that, for the most part, the Mexican government turns a blind eye to the dominance he has over the telecom industry.

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Michael Fleshman/ Flickr

Source: Wealth-X, Business Insider, Forbes, Investopedia


Despite his critics, Slim states that since becoming a billionaire, he has “more activity, more responsibility, and more compromise … The compromise is the challenge of solving Mexico’s problems. I’m trying to make our country better in the areas that I can.”

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Reuters

Source: Wealth-X, Forbes


Slim says one of his biggest goals is alleviating poverty, and that it needs to happen at the institutional level. “Poverty isn’t solved with donations,” he said. “The establishment of business is more beneficial to society than going around like Santa Claus.”

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UN Geneva/ Flickr

Source: Wealth-X, Forbes


Despite his wealth, Slim does not believe in conspicuous consumption — he reportedly doesn’t own any yachts or planes. Most of his money goes towards further investments in business or philanthropy, though he does have a set of hand-carved and blown Baccarat wine glasses that were owned by the previous president of Mexico.

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Eloy Alonso/ Reuters

Source: Wealth-X, Investopedia


Tim Padgett, who interviewed Slim for Time magazine, said, “Just by looking at him, you would never know he is a billionaire.” Slim has lived in the same six-bedroom house for 40 years. He indulges in only two big luxuries: Cuban cigars and art collecting.

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Slim’s home, his childhood home, and the Telmex offices are all located in Lomas de Chapultepec, a small but affluent neighborhood in Mexico City’s financial district.
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Google Earth

Source: Wealth-X, The Telegraph, American Journalism Review


Slim purchased a mansion on Fifth Avenue in New York City for $44 million in 2010 as an investment, not a residence.

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Mario Tama/Getty Images

Source: Business Insider, Bloomberg, Curbed


In 2015, the mansion was put on the market for $80 million, $36 million more than what he paid for it. But in 2016, it was taken off the market with no sale recorded.

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Mario Tama/Getty Images

Source: Curbed


Slim was married to his wife, Soumaya, for 32 years. She passed away in 1999 due to renal failure. The couple has six children, who will inherit Slim’s empire.

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Reuters

Source: Wealth-X


In 1994, Slim opened the Museo Soumaya, a nonprofit art museum with free admission in Mexico City named after his late wife, Soumaya. At one point, it housed the largest private Rodin collection in the world.

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Wikimedia Commons

Source: Wealth-X, The Telegraph, Museo Soumaya


After his wife’s death, rumors circulated of Slim’s subsequent romances, most famously with Queen Noor al-Hussein of Jordan. Both Soumaya and Queen Noor’s husband, King Hussein, passed away within one day of one another in 1999. Ten years later, newspaper outlets reported that Slim and the Queen of Jordan had formed a close relationship that included jet-setting around the globe and dining in secret at friends’ houses.

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Mike Coppola/ Getty Images

Sources: Wealth-X, Daily Star, Vanity Fair


Since 2004, Slim has stepped down from the boards of his three largest companies in order to focus on family, philanthropy, and his own health. Every Monday he has dinner with his children and their spouses to discuss business, and every Wednesday he has lunch with his grandchildren.

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Carlos Slim and his family seen in May 2015 in Oviedo, Spain.
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Europa Press/Europa Press via Getty Images

Source: Wealth-X, Forbes


Slim still maintains ultimate control of his companies, but he has handed over much of the responsibility and decision-making to his three sons, Carlos, Marco Antonio, and Patrick, and to his son-in-law, Arturo Elías Ayub.

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Carlos Slim’s son, Carlos Slim Domit, at the World Economic forum in 2012.
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Wikimedia Commons

Source: Wealth-X, Forbes


Slim has said publicly that his succession plan has been made, but he has not given details.

Source: Forbes