Carlos Slim, profile The New Yorker

Lawrence Wright, Profiles, “Slim’s Time,” The New Yorker, June 1, 2009, p. 52

Keywords

Carlos Slim;

New York Times;

Mexico, Mexicans;

Billionaires;

Telmex;

Newspapers;

América Móvil

ABSTRACT: PROFILE of Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim. Writer describes how Slim came to lend two hundred and fifty million dollars to the New York Times Company in 2008. In return, the Times awarded him stock-purchase warrants on 15.9 million shares. Slim became the company’s largest creditor and was poised to become one of its largest stockholders. In modern history, no one has dominated a major economy the way Carlos Slim does that of Mexico. Slim and his heirs control more than two hundred companies. His portfolio contains Inbursa, one of Mexico’s most prominent banks, Volaris, an airline; a mining company, a cigarette manufacturer, and much valuable real estate. The foundation of his empire is Telmex, the telecommunications company, which he acquired in 1990, and the cell-phone business, América Móvil, which is now the third-largest company in Latin America. Although Slim has often been described as a merciless predator, he has never been caught in one of the scandals that periodically spill onto the front pages of Mexican newspapers. His nationalism, humility, and relatively modest personal habits stand as a kind of rebuke to the image that Mexicans typically have of their oligarchs. Tells about Slim’s father, Khalil, who emigrated to Mexico from Lebanon and became a successful merchant. Describes Slim’s childhood and his early interest in numbers and money. He invested from a youthful age and abandoned engineering to go into business. Discusses Slim’s visit to the 1964 World’s Fair and its influence on his interest in technology. Writer gives a brief history of the Times‘s recent economic difficulties and considers why Slim would be interested in the paper. Also tells about David Geffen’s bid for the Times. Writer chronicles the growth of Slim’s business holdings from the mid-sixties to his acquisition of Telmex. Slim has often used recessions as an opportunity to buy businesses at reduced prices. Writer interviews Randall Stephenson, who worked for Slim in the nineties. “He’s probably the most intelligent businessman I’ve met,” Stephenson says. Discusses how Slim challenged the established ideas on pricing wireless service and spun off América Móvil, one of the most profitable telecom companies in the world. Tells about the Mexican government’s efforts to reform the telecom sector and allow for greater competition and its attempt to broker a deal with Slim that would allow him access to the television market. Mentions Slim’s acquisition of substantial amounts of Saks Fifth Avenue stock. Discusses criticism of Slim by the writer Denise Dresser, who believes that Slim is emblematic of crony capitalism in Mexico. Mentions Slim’s charitable activities and his comments on the Bush and Obama plans to rescue the faltering U.S. economy.

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