Helu is called the Mexican Trump, although he personally doesn’t like Trump and openly admits to having no political ambitions whatsoever. He’s the owner of Telmex, a telecommunications tycoon. His assets are estimated at over $70 billion, which is approximately 5% of Mexico’s annual budget – yet, he lives modestly. Criticised for being only interested in money and at the same time praised for being capable of making money even during a recession.
Here are some facts about the richest Mexican, Carlos Slim Helu:
- Slim is a Mexican-born son of Lebanese immigrants. His father fled compulsory enlistment in the Ottoman army. He settled in Mexico City, where he was involved in real estate trading. Carlos’ father, Julián Slim (Lebanese name: Yussef Salim Haddad) taught his children to be resourceful ever since they could understand the value of money. Haddad encouraged them to save money and helped them analyse their expenses.
- Slim himself admits that he would have been a really poor politician, but in spite of that, he was encouraged to run in the presidential elections. It seems that the telecom tycoon is not particularly interested in issues other than business. He openly admits he’s very good at it – at the age of 26 he already had over $40 million in his account and that’s what he would like to focus on.
- Slim is highly criticized for his approach to philanthropy. As a great proponent of supporting small and medium-sized enterprises, he considers the development of such businesses to be a method of making the society grow wealthy. That’s ironic, because he himself has monopolized the telecommunications market, and his children inherited other large companies (related with the technology or construction sectors), leaving small and medium-sized enterprises, which couldn’t keep up with them, doomed to failure. Some critics also note that Slim, in his comments about how societies should get wealthier, completely ignores the role of employees, even though the majority of the society is made up of employees, and not employers. Yet, Slim is praised for his efforts to support education, health care, science and art.
- Although he used to be the richest man in the world for some time, he has lived in the very same house for 40 years and has no laptop. Slim likes to live modestly, or at least modestly from the perspective of his wealth and position. Most of his fortune is further invested or given to his children. He also admits that he has more confidence in paper than in modern technologies, which is why he hardly uses a computer in his office – for many years he didn’t even have one at all.
- Slim is one of Donald Trump’s fiercest political and business critics. Slim is always the first to criticise Trump’s moves and it’s not even because of the US President’s clearly negative attitude towards Mexico. Anyway, most of the time Slim was right.
Carlos Slim Helu is definitely an interesting figure. There’s no denying that he is incredibly talented as an entrepreneur, committed to the business and to sharing what he knows with young entrepreneurs. On the other hand, however, he’s a man who owns a fortune greater than the Mexican health care outlays, in a country where 14% of the population lives in poverty, according to publicly available data. Certainly, in Mexico, the telecommunications tycoon, as a person, and his growing family wealth stir up a lot of controversy. But abroad… few people have actually heard of him. After all, Slim is not famous for being involved in any scandals, he lives modestly and is a religious man who has spent several decades with one and the same wife. Against the backdrop of people like Donald Trump, he may simply seem… quite dull.