Mexican telecom billionaire Carlos Slim is retiring from tobacco company Philip Morris International’s (PMI) board of directors, the company announced yesterday. He will step down in May.
Ranked by Forbes as the world’s second richest person, Slim has been on PMI’s board since 2008, when the company spun-off from its parent, Altria Group. Before 2008, Slim had served on Altria’s board as well.
PMI, producer of Marlboro and other tobacco brands, controlled 28.3 per cent of the cigarette market outside the US and China in 2013.
“We have benefited tremendously from Carlos’ dedicated service and invaluable advice,” said Louis Camilleri, PMI’s chairman.
“We are indebted to him and he leaves with our most heartfelt gratitude.”
Alongside Slim’s exit, PMI reported quarterly dividends of $1 per share, mirroring the last two quarters.
Shares immediately dropped yesterday morning following the announcement.
Slim’s exit comes on the heels of a business expansion into Spain.
On 4 March, Slim announced his imminent purchase from Bankia of a nearly 25 per cent stake in Spanish real estate company Realia.
Bankia majority-owns Realia in conjunction with FCC, a Spanish construction company. In November 2014 Slim purchased over a quarter of the shares in FCC, becoming its largest shareholder.
Philip Morris International declined to confirm the cause of Slim’s retirement from the board or its impact on the company.
■ Carlos Slim is the second wealthiest man in the world. He was born in Mexico City in 1940 to a Lebanese family.
■ His father, an immigrant from Lebanon, amassed a fortune operating a dry goods store during the early 20th century Mexican Revolution. His mother was born in Mexico to Lebanese parents.
■ Slim graduated from the National Autonomous University of Mexico in 1961 with a civil engineering degree. He married Soumaya Domit Gemayel five years later, just after his first business was incorporated. Its name, Inmobiliara Carso, honours their union – car from his first name and so from hers.
■ Slim acquired a variety of businesses throughout the 1970s before forming his conglomerate, now called Grupo Carso, in 1980. In 1992, the company acquired a large portion of Telmex, a major Mexican telecommunications company now operating in the US and Latin America.
■ Slim has founded a number of philanthropic organisations as well, including Museo Soumaya, a non-profit art museum that houses more than 64,000 pieces, and Fundacion del Centro Historico de la Ciudad de Mexico, dedicated to the renovation of the centre of his birthplace, Mexico City.