Slim beefs up telecoms empire with Mexican buy

AMÉRICA Móvil, the Mexico-based telecommunications giant, yesterday announced an offer to buy the remaining 40 per cent of Telefonos de Mexico (Telmex) in a deal worth $6.5bn (£3.9bn).

América Móvil chief executive Carlos Slim, the world’s richest man, is hoping to bring his telecoms empire under one roof by increasing his existing 60 per cent stake in Telmex.

The first non-American to top the Forbes’ rich list in 16 years, with a personal fortune of $53.5bn, Slim appears to be the moderate type.

He never uses a computer and lives in a modest six-bedroom house a few miles from his childhood home. His only extravagance seems to be his penchant for fine art – in March he opened the Soumaya Museum in Mexico City, named after his late wife, which is bursting with works from his extensive personal collection.

Slim’s reach far exceeds América Móvil, the largest mobile phone company in Latin America, which operates in 18 countries with more than 225m mobile customers.

He also controls, through his global conglomerate Grupo Carso, over 200 companies in industries varying across banking, retail and infrastructure.

Slim has faced frequent accusations of monopolising industries and stifling competition. In April, Telcel, the Mexican subsidiary of América Móvil, was fined a record $1bn for “monopolistic practices” after a four-year investigation by Mexico’s Federal Competition Commission.

América Móvil’s move to take over Telmex has raised more criticism but there are also concerns over the benefits of further investing into a fixed-line business that is consistently losing customers.

But investing in fledging companies seems to be a tendency of Slim. In recent years he has brought shares in New York Times, Independent News & Media and Citigroup while they were struggling.