Carlos Slim was born in Mexico City in 1940 into a wealthy family. His father, Julián Slim Haddad, immigrated to Mexico from Lebanon to avoid being enlisted in the Ottomon Empire's army. The Slim family became extremely successful store owners and real estate magnates. Slim learned about trading from his father before he turned 12. After graduating college in Chile in 1961, Slim returned to Mexico and worked long 14-hour days as a stock trader. In '65 he accumulated enough wealth to start his own firm. In '65 he bought the soda company Jarritos. In the 70's Slim diversified his portfolio of companies and bought several businesses in the construction, soft drink, printing, real estate, bottling and mining industries. 

But that's not how Slim got super-uber-wealthy. He did that by amassing infrastructure companies when Mexico was privatizing in the 80s. As a result he owns an inordinate amount of the nation's capital stock and is buying up other companies. He is, for instance, the single largest shareholder of the New York Times. If this sounds like the story of how Russian oligarchs got rich, well, that's because it's a very similar story.

The phone company Telmex was Slim's first large purchase ($1.76 billion in 1990) from the privatizing government. Slim's phone companies Telmex and Movil eventually had around 80% of the land line and the mobile phone markets. Before having the monopoly broken up by new Mexican anti-monopoly laws, Slim enjoyed two decades of weak regulations. In 2017 Mexico was still fighting Slim on breaking up Telmex/Movil.


In 2008, Slim bought 6.4% of The New York Times. During the U.S. recession in 2009, Slim gave the New York Times a $250 million loan and also increased his share percentage to 6.9%. In 2011 he bought up more shares, and owned 7.4%. In 2015 he bought 15.9 million shares at a discounted rate as agreed upon in the conditions of the 2009 loan and became the largest shareholder at 17.4%. In 2017, he sold about half of his shares and made at least $300 million in the process. Slim remains the largest individual shareholder, but BlackRock is now the largest with an 8.1% share.

Slim announced that he plans to retire in 2019. His sons and sons-in-law run the day-to-day of the empire already.


Mexico President Flags Slim 'Retirement,' Tycoon Sees Hard Work Ahead
Dave Graham, Reuters, 3/26/19

Billionaire Carlos Slim Tells Mexico Not to Fear Trump
Leyla Santiago, CNN, 1/28/17

Trump Meets with 'Great Guy' Carlos Slim Whom He Once Disparaged
Theodore Schleifer, CNN, 12/20/16

Trump and Mexico's Richest Man Meet for 'Lovely Dinner' at Mar-a-Lago Resort
David Agren, The Guardian 12/19/16

National Private Groups in Mexico, 1987-1993
Ceslo Garrido, CEPAL Review 53, August 1994