Carlos Slim Hélu, Mexico’s wealthiest resident and the second richest man in the world according to Forbes magazine, is losing money.
In fact, the owner of a mining and telecommunications empire has lost some $14,900 million – that’s around 17 percent of his fortune – due to mining firm Minera Frisco suffering as a result of the drop in gold prices, in combination with the Mexican peso flailing against the U.S. dollar.
No cause for concern
“We aren’t concerned as the losses we have seen have been in the stock market values,” Grupo Carso (a Slim owned consortium) spokesperson Arturo Elías Ayub told the BBC.
“The most important factor is that the businesses are operating in correctly and appear healthy, and that is happening.” He added.
But despite rumors of the Slim fortune rapidly diminishing, the businessman could soon be set to acquire Mexican football club Deportivo Guadalajara, known as “Las Chivas”, according to El Universal.
In fact, the 75-year-old magnate looks no closer to retirement. Slim is even the latest subject of journalist Diego Enrique Osorno’s book: “Slim. A political biography of the richest Mexican in the world” – based on the businessman’s life, from his heart attack scare in 1997 to how the multimillionaire made his fortune.
The man behind the fortune
But getting to the bottom of Carlos Slim’s life story was a more complex matter than writing the book, Osorno explains, after having interviews with Bill Gates and Warren Buffet rejected during the writing process.
“It’s not easy reporting on power in a country like Mexico, in such a small setting where everyone knows everyone else, where everyone protects each other, where there is a omerta (conspiracy of silence) to protect interests, but finally after much patience and insistence a few sources opened up,” he comments.
Certainly, if getting to know Slim while reporting from within Mexico is that difficult, then what of those further afield trying to get to know the man behind the money.
Then of course there is the million-dollar question of as to whether Slim is a “good” person? In Mexico, where 46.2 percent of the population live in poverty, some of that $77 million would go a long way. But there is no mention of Slim donating any of his vast fortune to any of the country’s population – the closest being his lucrative telecommunications empire contributing around 1.8 percent to Mexico’s GDP between 2005 and 2009 (around $129,000 million). The man himself believes that donating money “resolves nothing” – shattering any hopes of a handout.
“I didn’t want to lynch him (Slim) nor did I want to glorify him.” Osorno comments on his book.
Certainly, the opinion is in the readers’ hands. However in Mexico, a country where drug cartels, political mishaps and kidnappings make almost daily tabloid headlines, Slim is ultimately another example of the country’s widening inequality gap and a businessman who has used it to his advantage.