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Column 031912 Wall

Monday, March 19, 2012

Eleven Mexicans Make Forbes 2012 List of Billionaires

By Allan Wall

Forbes magazine has released its annual list of billionaires.  In fact, it is the 25th year that Forbes has done so.

The richest man in the world is Mexican telecoms magnate Carlos Slim at the equivalent of $69 billion U.S. dollars.  In second place is Bill Gates with $61 billion, followed by Warren Buffet at $44 billion.  Europe's richest man, Frenchman Bernard Arnault is #4 with $41 billion, while Amancio Ortega of Spain has $37.5 billion.  Larry Ellison has $36 billion, while Brazil's Eike Batista has $30 billion.  In the #8 position is Sweden's Stefan Persson with $26 billion.  Li Ka-Shing of Hong Kong has $25.5 billion, and #10 is Karl Albrecht of Germany with $25.4 billion.

You can study the list yourself here. And here is the Mexico list.

This year, Forbes listed 11 Mexican tycoons on the billionaire list.  Here are the 11 Mexicans listed:

  • Carlos Slim and family are worth $69 billion. The man, known as "King Midas" or "The Engineer," really made it into the big leagues back in 1990 when he bought Telmex, which now controls about 80% of Mexico's landlines. Slim also has Telcel which controls about 70% of the Mexican cellular phone market and América Móvil, Latin America's biggest wireless provider, with over 200 million customers. Last year he started Minera Frisco, a mining company. 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. Slim also owns part of the New York Times. And, his latest high-profile venture is the launching of an Internet TV network featuring his friend Larry King, known as
  • Ricardo Salinas Pliego (#37) and family are worth $17.4 billion. Salinas Pliego runs the Grupo Elektra retailer (which he inherited) and TV Azteca network (which he started). Banco Azteca, part of the Elektra chain, serves mostly low-income clients.
  • Alberto Bailleres and family are worth $16.5 billion. Bailleres is chairman of metallurgical giant Industrias Peñoles, Bailleres has stock in the luxury department store El Palacio de Hierro, Grupo Nacional Provincial insurance company, investment firm Grupo Profuturo, and serves on the board of bottling company Femsa. Bailleres also has a 100-yard long yacht called The Mayan Queen IV.
  • Mining and lumber magnate German Larea Motta Velasco is CEO of mining company Grupo México. Larea and family have a net worth of $14.2 billion dollars. Grupo Mexico also includes Mexico's biggest railroad company Ferromex. Larea is also owner of the Cinemex movie chain.
  • Jeronimo Arango and family are worth $4 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), netting the family a couple of billion. The Arangos also own real estate. Jeronimo Arango's art collection includes pieces by El Greco and Goya, some of which he has donated to the Prado Museum in Madrid. Arango also serves on the Prado board of trustees.
  • Emilio Azcarraga Jean is worth $2 billion. Azcarraga runs Grupo Televisa, with its TV channel, telenovela production, radio, satellite, Internet, publishing, gambling and discount airline.
  • Roberto Gonzalez Barrera is founder and executive of Gruma, which is the world's biggest maker of tortillas. (Gruma brands include Mission and Maseca.) Most of his money, though, is from his part of the Banorte. The bank's stock went up in 2011, putting Gonzalez Barrera back on the billionaires' list after being off it for more than a decade. This magnate is worth $1.9 billion, and that is from his stock alone, not that of his family as are many of these valuations.
  • Carlos Hank Rhon and family are worth $1.4 billion and on the Forbes billionaires list for the first time. His family owns over 90% of Grupo Financiero Interacciones, which in turn controls Banco Interacciones. The Hank family also has Grupo Hermes (which includes Hermes Infraestructura) and a transportation company.
  • Roberto Hernandez Ramirez is worth $1.3 billion. Hernandez was CEO of Banamex when that bank sold out to Citigroup, and he remained on Citigroup's board until 2009. Now he's on the board of Televisa and owns part of a Brazilian company.
  • Joaquin Guzman Loera, known as "el Chapo" (Shorty), is the chief of the Sinaloa drug cartel. The estimated net worth of this narco baron is $1 billion. The inclusion of Guzman on the list has been criticized, but he is a billionaire.
  • Alfredo Harp Helu is Carlos Slim's first cousin. Harp and family are worth $1 billion. Harp was running Banamex when the company cashed in by selling out to Citigroup in 2001, and now owns the Diablos Rojos baseball team in Mexico City, and he is the principal shareholder of the Grupo Marti gym and sporting goods store.


Allan Wall, an educator, resided in Mexico for many years.  His website is located at

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