The first million at 17: This is how Carlos Slim Helú became a multi-billionaire

• Carlos Slim Helú is one of the Forbes Top 10 Billionaires
• The billionaire is one of the largest private employers in Mexico
• Slim Helú: “Charity does not solve the problem of poverty”

According to the business magazine Forbes (as of March 22, 2023), Carlos Slim Helú has 90.1 billion US dollars – making him one of the ten richest people in the world. How did he get here?

Investing in the blood: Slim Helú always knows 50 stock prices by heart

Carlos Slim Helú was born on January 28, 1940 as the son of the Lebanese entrepreneur Yusef Salim and his wife Linda Helú in Mexico City. He was taught entrepreneurial thinking at an early age: According to Der Spiegel, his father, who was himself a real estate investor, advised his sons to start their own savings account at the age of 12. Only five years later, Slim Helú, who is known for always knowing at least 50 current stock prices by heart, is said to have made his first million pesos.

Despite this early success, Slim Helú decided to study civil engineering and graduated from the Universidad Nacional Autonóma de México in 1961, having lectured at the university and conducted public seminars while still a student. After graduating, he married Soumaya Domit in the mid-1960s, and the marriage had three children. It was also during this period that Slim Helú founded his own company, with which he initially worked in the real estate sector, but later also in other business areas: the acquisition of a tobacconist and later a restaurant chain created Grupo Carso, with which he still does business today managed.

Slim Helú became the richest man in Latin America in the 1990s

Later, among other things, the takeover of the retail chain Sanborn’s and the purchase of the Mexican shares of the US retail chain Sears followed. Car parts supplier Condumex also became part of Grupo Carso – these takeovers and investments gave Slim Helú the public eye that in 1990 he had enough influence to be considered as a buyer in the privatization of the state-owned telephone company Telmex. In fact, Slim Helú, France Telecom (now Orange) and BellSouth jointly acquired the privatized telephone company, making it Mexico’s largest private company.

With this success, Slim Helú became the richest man in all of Latin America and the largest private employer in Mexico, which also allowed him to invest in major North American companies such as Apple, Philip Morris, Office Max and Saks. Helú also invested in the New York Times – and in the meantime was even the largest single shareholder of the world-famous daily newspaper.

Philanthropic change of heart after his wife’s death

Slim Helú is admired and criticized a lot at the same time. The political scientist Denise Dresser said in an interview with the WELT: “He controls everything, buys everything, he is the fifth power in the state and always remains in the shadows.” With his many takeovers, the billionaire also blocks competitiveness in many areas, his investment strategy is to buy cheaply and then sell expensively or to integrate the systems into the family empire.

Slim Helú experienced a change of heart in the early 2000s after the death of his wife. While he was previously quoted as saying that he was not Santa Claus, that charity does not solve the problem of poverty, he is now active in the Latin American development fund and is committed to small investments in the expansion and development of infrastructure, health care and education a.

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Image Credits: YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images, José Cruz/ABr