Tuesday, December 11, 2012

the world’s richest human

Kerry A. Dolan, Forbes Staff

Back in the late 1990s when I was running the Forbes World Billionaires’ list, Mexicans would ask me why the list didn’t include former Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari or any of the country’s drug dealers. Salinas was rumored to have benefitted from privatizations of large state companies like phone company Telmex –but this was never proven. (Telmex was taken private in 1990 by Southwestern Bell and Carlos Slim Helu, now the world’s richest man, and is today owned by Slim’s America Movil ). As for the drug dealers, no one man rose to prominence back then.  A few years ago Forbes was able to confidently put Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman Loera, the head of the Sinaloa cartel, on our list, with a net worth of $1 billion.

There are still Mexican billionaires missing from our list –this time intentionally so. These are family fortunes spread across a large number of shareholders or across several generations. When Forbes began tracking global wealth in 1987, we lumped fortunes shared by nuclear families into one listing. The Walton family, for example. As we learned more about how various Walton family members owned shares of Wal-Mart , and as Sam Walton’s children grew into adults with fortunes of their own, we broke those fortunes apart into individual holdings. For our billionaires’ list, we deliberately avoid including billion-dollar fortunes that are shared across several generations of a family, or that are shared by a very large number of family members, like the Rothschilds of European banking fame.
We have included Mexico‘s Jeronimo Arango and his two brothers as one shared fortune because we don’t know exactly how the three brothers divvied up the money they made when Wal-Mart’s Mexican unit bought the majority of retailer Cifra, which the Arango family controlled, in 1997. They make our list because it’s safe to say that by sharing in a $4 billion fortune, each brother is worth at least $1 billion.
So who’s missing?
  • The Martin Bringas family. According to documents filed with the Mexican stock exchange, seven siblings who are members of the Martin Bringas family share in a fortune worth $3.5 billion (using the stock price from March 25), derived from ownership of publicly traded retailer Soriana. The seven: Francisco Javier Martin Bringas, Juan Jose Martin Bringas, Pedro Luis Martin Bringas, Carlos Eduardo Martin Bringas, Ana Maria Martin Bringas, and Maria Teresa Martin Bringas.
  • The Martin Soberon family. Four siblings — Alberto, Armando, Gerardo and Maria Rosa Martin Soberon –share in a $1.7 billion fortune that lies in the value of their stake in retailer Soriana.
  • Cynthia and Bruce Grossman. These siblings share a fortune worth nearly $1.5 billion from ownership of Grupo Continental, a Coke bottler and maker of Jugos del Valle juices. Their late father Burton Grossman founded Grupo Continental and they inherited his stake.
  • The Jorba Servitje family. Through their stake in baked goods giant Grupo Bimbo, this family is worth $1.1 billion. Jaime Jorba was one of the four founders of Grupo Bimbo in 1945. Last year Bimbo announced it was buying the bakery business of Sara Lee (NYSE:SLE) for $959 million. (Grupo Bimbo CEO Daniel Servitje Montull & family is a member of the billionaires list, with a net worth of $3.5 billion)
There may be other Mexican family fortunes that we have missed. If so, I’d love to hear about them. You can email me at kdolan [at] forbes.com
See Also:

He got TelMex as a gift from Carlos Salinas and now he gives advice on investment and policy

Mexican telecom tycoon Carlos Slim Helú—whose family fortune of about $74 billion makes him the world’s richest human (well ahead of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett on the Forbes list of billionaires—plays against type.


MEXICO CITY (AFP) – Mexican telecom tycoon Carlos Slim Helu has overtaken Microsoft founder Bill Gates as the richest person on the planet, the Mexican financial website Sentido Comun reported.

Sentido Comun said the Mexican billionaire’s wealth had rocketed past Gates following the red-hot performance of his telecommunications firm, America Movil.
US-based Forbes magazine, renowned for its rankings of the world’s wealthiest individuals, updated its listings in April to rank Slim as the second richest individual in the world, as he bested the legendary US investor Warren Buffett.
The Mexican financial website said Slim’s lead over Gates amounted to billions of dollars.
“Thanks to a 26.5-percent rise in the shares of America Movil during the second quarter, Slim, who controls a 33-percent interest in Latin America’s largest mobile phone company, is substantially richer than Gates,” Sentido Comun said.
“The difference between their two fortunes is around nine billion dollars in favor of Slim,” the financial website claimed.
It said it had based its calculations largely on the share price movements of companies controlled by Slim.
The website said soaring performances from Slim’s other business interests had also helped propel him past Gates.
Aside from America Movil, Slim controls the INBURSA financial group and the Grupo Carso industrial firm with interests spanning retail stores, coffee shops and restaurants.
One reason for Slim’s meteoric rise might be because he is also still working.
Gates stepped aside as Microsoft chief in 2000 to devote his energies to the philanthropic foundation he runs with his wife, Melinda.
Forbes in April had pegged Slim’s wealth at a staggering 53.1 billion dollars, and said Gates was sitting on a 56-billion-dollar fortune.
Slim, the son of Lebanese immigrants, has had business in his blood from his early days when he helped out in his father’s shop, “The Star of the Orient.”
The 67-year-old started out in real estate and was already affluent enough when he graduated from university with an engineering degree to buy stakes in a stock brokerage and a bottling firm.
During the crippling Latin American economic crisis of the early 1980s, Slim snapped up and reformed a number of distressed businesses, banking massive profits for Grupo Carso.
Carso gained its name from the first three letters of Slim’s name and the first two of his late wife’s, Soumaya Gemayel.
Analysts say one of Slim’s smartest and most lucrative deals occurred when he took control of Telefonos de Mexico (Telemex) in 1990 as the then government moved to privatize the sprawling monopoly.
Slim oversaw a 1.8-billion-dollar investment to take over Telemex, but he then overhauled the company and expanded its service as the telecom firm became the star of the Mexican stock exchange and more than returned Slim’s initial investment.
The Mexican billionaire has also made some savvy stock picks.
In 1997, he bought about three percent of Apple Computer at 17 dollars a share shortly before the company launched its hit iMac computer. Twelve months later, Apple’s shares topped 100 dollars.
Despite his vast riches, Slim reportedly shuns corporate jets and flashy offices and sported a plastic watch during the 1990s.
Widowed in 1999, Slim has boosted his philanthropic presence and overseen his three sons’ careers within his business empire.
Like Gates, he has developed a strong profile on the philanthropic front.
Earlier this month he allied himself with the foundation of former US president Bill Clinton and with Canadian mining magnate Frank Giustra to launch an anti-poverty campaign in Latin America.
Fifty-three percent of Mexico’s population of 104 million live in poverty, which is defined as living on less than two dollars a day, World Bank data show.

“I wanted to go to the restroom, but I will go now,” the 71-year-oldSlim tells me with a laugh, having sat down to a spur-of-the-moment interview at the Metropolitan Club. This was after he patiently endured a lengthy black-tie dinner celebrating a “creative leadership summit” hosted by Canadian-born magazine publisher Louise Blouin.
The mustachioed mogul, looking slightly rumpled in his tux, has shown up with his dashing nephew Roberto, but no entourage or security, to receive a Blouin Foundation Award for his philanthropic work.
“Our philosophy is you need to give nonprofit money for health, nutrition, education, culture, and sports,” says Slim, who has funded his own foundations to the tune of $10 billion, has pledged another $100 million to a Clinton Global Initiative sustainable growth project, and forked over equally eye-popping amounts in joint ventures with the likes of Microsoft’s Gates and Los Angeles billionaire Eli Broad. “You need to support human development and human capital as much as possible. And we’ve had 25 years of programs, great programs. We supported 125,000 surgeries. We fund 15,000 scholarships every year for college and higher education. We gave bicycles for rural areas. We gave laptops.”
He adds: “We do something more interesting: We do digital libraries, and instead of lending books we lend laptops …You need education, and at the end of the day, you need people to have jobs. And education now will come through technological means. You cannot make thousands of universities or hundreds of thousands of professors, but with technology and the Internet you can have great courses and make a digital university.”
Slim, who speaks heavily accented but serviceable English (which I’ve taken the liberty of cleaning up here and there), also chatted about his wish to increase his ownership stake in The New York Times(to which he lent $250 million in 2009 to help the paper through financial troubles), his love of the New York Yankees, his reasons for paying $44 million last year for the Doris Duke mansion on Fifth Avenue, his policy prescriptions to fix the ailing American economy and stop the massive drug violence on the U.S.-Mexican border, and his claim that, contrary to widespread belief, he is by no means a monopolist in the lucrative Mexican telecom business.
“There are a lot of competitors. If you look, there is Nextel, Telefónica, all the TV companies together,” Slim maintains, arguing that he owes his 70 percent market share to high quality of service and savvy marketing rather than preferential treatment from the Mexican politicians he takes very good care of financially. “And we don’t have the convergence—we cannot provide ‘triple play’ [phone, Internet, and cable], and we are monopolists? We operate in 20 countries, and if we were a monopoly with expensive and bad service, our customers would not be with us. We would not have their loyalty.”
In years past, Slim prided himself on never owning a residence outside Mexico, so I ask if he’s planning to spend more time in New York now that he’s bought himself an Upper East Side palace.
“No, no, no,” Slim replies. “It has six or seven floors. Do you think I will live in a house of seven floors? I bought it to build apartments for renting or business. I’ll be staying in a hotel, always.”
What about the Yankees? Slim is a rabid fan. Would he like to buy the team?
“No,” he insists. “I like baseball to enjoy. If you are in business, you are not enjoying. You are working. It’s more fun to watch them play and watch Mariano Rivera [the star Panamanian relief pitcher] break records. He’s the best closing pitcher in baseball. He’s 41 years old. It’s fantastic.
How do we fix this recession?
“With the same things that were done in 2000 and 2001, when it was temporarily solved with big expenditures and very aggressive monetary and fiscal policy,” he tells me. “Aside from lowering taxes, we should be directing more money to the real economy, not to the financial economy.  The volatility of the markets is so great that more is won or lost in a single day than in five years of accumulated interest. And that’s not a good thing.”
I ask if he agrees with President Obama’s so-called Buffett rule, which would mandate that rich people like Warren Buffett—who benefits from a 15 percent tax rate because his money comes from capital gains—pay at least the same rate as their secretaries.
“I don’t know what Warren Buffett pays,” Slim says, “but I think that the fiscal policy should be fair. You don’t need to raise taxes on rich people, because they create capitalization and investment. But you need to tax speculation—meaning capital gains. Why should it be just 15 percent? Salaried people pay 35 percent. Why shouldn’t that be paid on capital gains?”
Anything else?
“The welfare policies that you are following—you and Europe—are unsustainable,” Slim argues. “You cannot have people retiring at 60 years old, and you cannot provide universal health care the way you do. That’s crazy. The focus should be the support of small- and middle-size business. That is where the employment is. And there should be investment in the real economy. Infrastructure is an example. And the best way to do that is with the private sector. It’s more efficient.”
I ask what should be done about the terrible violence surrounding the illegal Mexican drug trade, with grisly murders in the tens of thousands.
“It’s a problem coming from the United States,” Slim says.
Because of the demand?
“Because of everything. You stay with the money and the drugs. We stay with the weapons and the violence. And you’re selling the weapons to the consumers in Mexico. And the retail price [of the drugs] is, I don’t know how much bigger, let’s say 10 times in the U.S. what it is in Mexico. And that means the demand is here and the money is here. It’s like what used to happen during Prohibition in Chicago. You had a lot of violence there.”
What’s the solution?
“Follow the money.”
Would it help to legalize the drugs and, as with Prohibition, eliminate the incentive for crime?
“It doesn’t ‘help,’ ” Slim says. “It finishes.”
Not that he’s necessarily suggesting that prescription.
“We don’t know the consequences in health—how bad these drugs are,” Slim says. “But I think we should be doing more work together.”
Slim’s empire, though based on telecommunications, spans about 200 companies and 220,000 employees in such diverse industries as hotels, banking, construction, cigarettes, soft drinks, mining, bicycles, airlines, railways, and printing. But it’s his investment in The New York Times—of which he owns slightly more than 7 percent, with warrants to increase his holdings to 16 percent by 2015—that has raised his public profile in the United States.
I ask what his intentions are.
“It’s a financial investment,” says Slim, whose $250 million loan at 14 percent interest, to help the media company through some cash-flow problems, was paid back in full ahead of schedule. “It was a very good sign when they paid back the loan early, and if I invest part of the payment or part of the interest, it’s because I think it’s a good company and a great brand. Now they’re doing buybacks and the dividend is so high, etc., and they’re managing the newspaper in a very good way. We are not speculating. We are there for a long time. But if the stock goes down more, it will be interesting—because it will come back more.”
What if it starts writing critical articles about Carlos Slim?
“They have done that.”
Any reaction to the appointment of Jill Abramson as the new editor? 
“I’m sorry. Who?”  
Obviously, some matters are below Slim’s paygrade.

No comments:

Post a Comment