- Title: MEXICO: Mexicans react to Carlos Slim being named world's richest man
- Date: 12th March 2010
- Summary: (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) RESIDENT, JUAN GARCIA, SAYING: "He's been able to manage his business, many others in Mexico haven't been able to. He's a businessman and he's an example."
- Embargoed: 27th March 2010 12:00
- Location: Mexico
- Country: Mexico
- Topics: Finance,People
- Reuters ID: LVADOPHK05B3O5F7NETJNYR5Y88C
- Story Text: Residents in Mexico City are surprised that Carlos Slim, who was named the world's richest man, has reached the pinnacle during an economic crisis.
News that Mexico's Carlos Slim was named the world's richest man dominated newspaper headlines in Mexico City on Thursday (March 11).
It was a bittersweet triumph for many Mexicans. Seventy-year-old Slim has amassed a fortune of $53.5 billion, beating Microsoft founder Bill Gates to top the list of the world's richest people, according to a new ranking published by Forbes magazine.
His far-flung business empire includes some of Mexico's best-known department stores, its biggest telecoms operator, hotels, restaurants, oil drilling, building firms and Inbursa bank -- making it hard to go a day in Mexico without paying him some money.
Outside Mexico Slim has holdings in such prestigious groups as retailer Saks and New York Times Co.
Resident, Abelardo Gonzalez, said he was surprised to hear the news.
"To find out a Mexican man Carlos Slim is the richest man in the world leaves us stunned. We can feel proud but I'm surprised that in the midst of a crisis he reached the pinnacle globally."
Another resident, Jorge Lopez, said it was ironic Slim lived in a developing country.
"It shows there is great inequality in the country because we are a developing country and it's ironic we have the world's richest man living here in Mexico."
His defining foray occurred in 1990 when he and his partners bought creaking state telephone company Telmex for $1.7 billion. Turning it into a cash-making jewel, he spun off America Movil and expanded it through acquisitions to become the world's No. 4 wireless operator.
While critics accuse him of using a monopoly to build his fortune, Slim has a simple philosophy about making money.
Cigar-smoking Slim's trademark is his "Midas" touch, acquiring struggling firms and turning them into cash cows.
Mexico City resident Juan Garcia admires him.
"He's been able to manage his business, many others in Mexico haven't been able to. He's a businessman and he's an example."
Resident, Norma Bolanos, said Slim should provide better jobs.
"He should support Mexicans with all his businesses and provide better salaries, better benefits and support for the home, food, clothes."
Slim has become involved in combating poverty, illiteracy and poor healthcare in Latin America and promotes sports projects for the poor, but has never voiced plans to give chunks of his wealth to charity like Gates or fellow billionaire Warren Buffett.
Businessmen, he says, do more good by creating jobs and wealth through investment.
In 2008, he bought a minority stake in the New York Times as the stock tanked. Now, warrants he received for lending the publisher $250 million could net him more than $80 million and could lead to a 16 percent stake in the company for Slim, who says he has no interest in becoming a U.S. media baron.
But Slim's newspaper investment has ruffled feathers in the New York media establishment. As investors speculated last week that he could move to acquire more of the Times, media mogul Rupert Murdoch said he doubted the controlling family would relinquish control to an outsider, especially from abroad.
Mexico's most wanted man Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman, blamed for thousands of deaths in a drug war, again made it onto the Forbes Magazine list of the world's richest people in the 937 slot.
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