How Did Carlos Slim Make His Money?

If you keep track of the world’s richest people, you have certainly heard the name “Carlos Slim.”

Slim is a Mexican businessman who has worked hard all his life to build an incredible fortune. Although he owns dozens of companies, he has stepped back from many of them in recent years to concentrate on opportunities in fiber optics.

His legacy, however, shows that he is a dedicated, talented business leader who knows how to identify emerging markets and grow profits through vertical integration.

How Did Carlos Slim Get Started?

Carlos Slim was born in Mexico City to parents who immigrated from Lebanon. His parents managed to build a successful real estate company that earned them a small fortune.

Well before he attended college, Slim saw the benefit of learning from his parents’ business success. He got involved in the family business, where he learned the fundamentals of topics like business management and accounting.

When Carlos Slim was just 11 years old, he put his family-oriented business education to work. He purchased a government savings bond and kept meticulous records of how it grew through compound interest.

He kept such careful financial records that he soon developed a habit of recording every transaction in his life. Many say he still keeps a personal ledger of his income and expenses. In fact, he doesn’t even have a computer in his office because he prefers to track his finances manually.

Success came quickly for Slim. He purchased stock in a Mexican bank at 12 years old. He was the majority shareholder by 15.

Despite his early success, Slim wanted to attend college. He enrolled at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), called National Autonomous University of Mexico in English. He majored in civil engineering but also took business and finance classes. After completing his degree, he moved to Chile to take courses in economics.

With this solid foundation in business and finance, Carlos Slim set out to build one of the world’s most successful conglomerates, Grupo Carso.

What Companies Does Carlos Slim Own?

Carlos Slim owns dozens of companies, but most of them are consolidated under the Grupo Carso name. Some of his most successful brands include:

  • Carso Energy
  • Carso Electric
  • Carso Oil & Gas
  • Bronco Drilling, which participates in drilling projects for wells and oil extraction
  • PC Construcciones
  • CIDEC (Centro de Investigación y Desarrollo CARSO), which researches and manufacturers electronics among other products
  • Sears Mexico
  • Sanborns, a group of restaurants and retail stores
  • DAX cosmetics

Carso Global Telecom split from Grupo Carso in the mid-90s. This separate conglomerate includes:

  • Teléfonos de México (Telmex), which provides internet and telephone services
  • Telvista, which offers a broad range of corporate communications services
  • MTN Group Limited, a telecom company based in South Africa
  • Global Telecom, a multinational telecommunications company based in Amsterdam

How Did Carlos Slim Make His Money?

Carlos Slim made his money as a businessman who owns a vast array of companies spanning sectors from real estate to telecommunications.

He began making his money as a stockbroker in Mexico City. He worked long hours to generate a $400,000, which he used to establish his own brokerage firm, Inversora Bursátil. During this time, he created Grupo Carso and started making plans for the future.

Jarritos was Slim’s first major purchase. He acquired the beverage company in 1965. The next year, it was worth about $40 million.

Over the next few decades, Carlos Slim expanded Grupo Carso’s reach to include businesses in a broad range of industries, including:

  • Real estate
  • Mining
  • Manufacturing
  • Telecommunications
  • Cement
  • Telecommunications

Some businesses in these sectors remained outside of Grupo Carso until Slim consolidated them in the 1980s.

Carlos Slim benefited significantly from vertical integration. Since he owned so many companies, he could purchase supplies from himself instead of giving money to business’s owned by other people. For example, if he wanted to construct a new building, he could rely on his mining and cement companies for materials.

This approach enriched all of Slim’s companies so that he became increasingly wealthy as he added more brands under the Grupo Carso umbrella.

How Did Carlos Slim Get So Rich?

Several factors contributed to Carlos Slim’s immense wealth. His mathematical abilities were apparent from childhood. He’s known for being able to track numbers in his head and on paper without relying on a computer.

He also benefits from learning business management from the inside out. Since his parents owned a successful real estate company, Slim took advantage of finance and management opportunities long before he was a teenager. He started working with the company when he was just five years old. It seems that he found the work fascinating, so he wanted to devote himself to learning more.

Additionally, Slim has interests outside of the stock market. Investing helped make him rich, but understanding the needs of the construction, entertainment, and telecommunications industries gave him insights into how he could profit from his investments.

It didn’t take long for him to realize that he was able to cut costs and increase profits by owning companies that could supply materials and services to his other businesses. This type of vertical integration gained popularity during the 1980s, but he was one of the first business owners to implement the strategy successfully.

Who Is the Richest Mexican In the World?

Carlos Slim is easily the richest Mexican in the world. In 2023, he had an estimated net worth of $93 billion.

The second-wealthiest Mexican, Germán Larrea Mota-Velasco, had a net worth of $26.6 billion. That means Slim has more than three times the wealth as his closest competitor.

How Did Carlos Slim Lose His Money?

It’s probably unfair to say that Carlos Slim lost his money. In 2023, he was the 11th wealthiest person in the world. He did, however, lose a considerable amount of wealth while slipping from the number-one spot to his current position.

However, changes in the stock market have cost Slim billions of dollars. For example, he lost $3.4 billion in one day in 2016 when America Movil’s stock price dipped 12%.

Slim has always lost some wealth as the Mexican peso loses power compared to the U.S. dollar and other currencies.

While market shifts can hurt the wealth of investors, it’s worth noting that Slim’s net worth exceeded $100 billion in 2023. Despite some setbacks, he has an enormous fortune almost equal to 7% of Mexico’s GDP.

Was Carlos Slim Ever the Richest Man in The World?

According to Forbes, Carlos Slim was the richest person in the world from 2010 to 2013. Bill Gates took the position in 2014 and held it until 2017.

Currently, Slim is the richest person in Latin America and the 11th wealthiest person in the world.

What Does Carlos Slim Do Now?

Carlos Slim is still very active in his businesses. Recently, the 84-year-old mogul has spent most of his time focused on fiber optic technology.

He has, however, stepped back from some of his businesses. Some wealthy people choose to give their children massive amounts of money. Slim is taking a different approach to distributing his wealth. Instead of handing out cash, he has created leadership opportunities for his children. This strategy should help ensure that future generations can continue benefitting from Slim’s wealth.

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