MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican telecommunications tycoon Carlos Slim is the world’s richest man for a third year running, according to Forbes magazine’s annual list of billionaires. Slim clung to the top spot despite an “annus horribilis” in which a string of blows from regulators in his home market cost him billions.
Here are some key facts about the 72-year-old Slim, who built his empire by purchasing troubled companies and turning them around.
* Slim had a tougher year in 2011, losing $5 billion of his net worth compared with 2010, according to Forbes. Since joining the world’s top 10 richest in 2005, it was the first time Slim’s fortunes have decoupled from the Mexican economy, which grew above trend last year.
* Regulators fined his Telcel mobile unit about $1 billion, a sanction which is still pending. They also stymied his plans to enter Mexico’s television market and forced him to slash the fees he charges rivals to use his phone network.
* His cash-making juggernaut America Movil has slowed dramatically. Annual growth in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) at the company has shrunk from 51 percent in the first quarter of 2007 to 3.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011.
* A report in January from the Organisation for Co-operation and Development added to pressure on Slim, saying that from 2005 to 2009, Mexican consumers overpaid for phone and Internet services by $13.4 billion, with high fees disproportionately hitting the poor.
* Born in Mexico on January 28, 1940, and an engineer by profession, Slim is the son of a Lebanese immigrant who built a small fortune by purchasing properties at cheap prices during the Mexican Revolution.
* Despite his immense wealth - equivalent to nearly 6 percent of Mexico’s annual economic output - the father of six keeps a fairly discreet security staff and, unlike many other Mexican businessmen, avoids ostentatious displays of wealth.
* Slim’s three sons - Carlos, Marco Antonio and Patricio - hold key positions at his companies Telmex, the fixed-line phone giant, America Movil and conglomerate Grupo Carso.
* The tycoon also has stakes in a host of companies ranging from New York Times Co, retailer Saks Inc, mining firm Frisco and banking firm Grupo Financiero Inbursa.
* An avid art collector, he is believed to own the largest number of sculptures by Auguste Rodin outside France. These are displayed at a newly built museum in Mexico City, named after Slim’s late wife, Soumaya.
* Slim has channeled billions of dollars into philanthropic causes, but keeps a tighter rein on his fortune than his U.S. peers Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, famously saying that businessmen did more good by creating jobs and investment than “by being Santa Claus.”
Reporting by Cyntia Barrera Diaz and Elinor Comlay; editing by Matthew Lewis