March 10, 2008
Mexico’s Ten Billionaires (According to the Forbes List)
magazine recently published its annual list of billionaires. The 2008 list is based on the billionaires’ net worth on
February 11th, 2008.
to Forbes, the world’s wealthiest man is Berkshire Hathaway investor Warren Buffet, at US$62 billion. In second place
is Mexican telecoms tycoon Carlos Slim, at US$60 billion. In third place is Bill Gates, with US$58 billion.
calculating such wealth, a lot depends on how much each man’s stock is currently worth. In
August of 2007, Fortune magazine had actually named Slim as the world’s richest man.
when you’re talking about this kind of money what’s a billion here or there? According
to Forbes, only a measly US$2 billion separates Buffet and Slim, and Slim and Gates.
Mexico, a country in which about half the population lives under the poverty line, where the per capita income is less than
US$7,000.00, Forbes lists ten billionaires. Let’s take a brief look at each.
US$60 billion, Carlos Slim is by far the richest Mexican. The man known as “King
Midas,” or “The Engineer,” really made it into the big leagues back in 1990 when he bought Telmex (Teléfonos de México) during President Carlos Salinas’ privatizations (though many would call them crony
capitalizations). Telmex controls over 90% of Mexico’s landlines. Slim also has Telcel (which controls almost 80% of the Mexican cellular phone market)
and América Móvil, Latin America’s biggest wireless provider.
But Carlos Slim is not limited to telecommunications and related
industries. This guy sells everything, and it’s doubtful that any resident of Mexico can escape putting more money in
his already voluminous pockets. Slim has a bank, an airline, department stores,
restaurants and music outlets. Slim sells insurance, auto parts, and ceramic
tile. The Mexican government pays Slim to construct roads, water treatment plants,
petroleum platforms, etc.
All of Slim’s holdings put together equal 6.3 percent of
Mexico’s entire annual economic output.
second-richest Mexican (and the world’s 85th richest man) is Alberto Bailleres, chairman of Industrias Peñoles, the huge metallurgical company that refines gold, lead and zinc. Bailleres also has stock in the luxury department store El Palacio
de Hierro, and in insurance.
US$7.3 billion, the third-wealthiest Mexican is lumber and mining magnate German Larrea Mota-Velasco of Grupo México. This company mines zinc, silver and lead, and has been
helped by the rising price of copper. This gentleman also controls Mexico’s
Salinas Pliego is worth US$6.3 billion. Salinas Pliego runs the Grupo Elektra retailer and the TV Azteca network. Salinas Pliego is taking on Slim head to head with his mobile carrier Unefon, and he has opened his own bank as part of the Elektra chain which mostly serves low-income
clients. Elektra also sells Chinese
Arango is the fifth-richest Mexican, worth US$4.3 billion. Arango’s family
business was the Bodega Aurrera supermarket chain, part of Grupo Cifra, which sold out to Wal-mart and became Wal-mart de México (Walmex). Arango also owns real estate.
Saba Raffoul, worth US$2.1 billion, runs Grupo Casa Saba which markets health,
pharmaceutical and beauty products. Saba also partners with Telemundo to produce
Hernandez is the seventh-wealthiest Mexican, and he is worth US$1.7 billion. Hernandez
was CEO of Banamex when that bank sold out to Citigroup, for which he serves as a director.
Hernandez also owns resorts on the Yucatan Peninsula.
Azcarraga Jean is worth US$1.6 billion, and runs media giant Grupo Televisa, famous
for, among other things, its telenovelas that the company is now making versions of in Chinese.
US$1.6 billion, Alfredo Harp Helu is Carlos Slim’s cousin. Like Hernandez,
Harp made big bucks off the Citigroup sell-out, and also owns the Mexico City Red Devils baseball team.
tenth-richest man, Lorenzo Zambrano, is head of cement giant Cemex, which is, by the way, the biggest cement company operating
in the U.S.A., and one of the world’s biggest.
may well be other Mexican billionaires who don’t report all their earnings, or hide assets in holding companies. But these are the ten Mexican billionaires recognized by Forbes magazine in March of
it bad that Mexico has billionaires? Not necessarily. Their wealth, after all, is an asset that can be utilized in providing more jobs. With this said however, I think all ten of these billionaires could do much better at generating employment
for their fellow Mexicans.
Allan Wall, a MexiData.info columnist, recently returned from a tour of duty in Iraq. He
currently resides in Mexico, where he has lived since 1991.