Mexican telecoms billionaire and philanthropist Carlos Slim has again topped the latest Forbes magazine rich list, published this month, as his wealth grew by more than a third in the last year to $74 billion, beating Bill Gates ($56 billion) into second place. Though he is no slouch when it comes to philanthropy either – he recently launched an anti-poverty campaign in Latin America in partnership with Bill Clinton and Canadian mining tycoon Frank Giustra, and earlier this month he pledged $6 billion for his three charitable foundations.
He is not planning to outdo his north American counterpart in this field. He has, for instance, no plans to retire from business to concentrate on charitable work, and remarked in a recent interview: ‘Wealth is like an orchard. You have to share the fruit, not the trees’ – possibly a reference to the Gates-Buffett pledge, which he has said he will not join. Despite his wealth, he remains a rather elusive, half-legendary figure, usually depicted in terms of colorful, fragmentary stories which readily attach themselves to him – he has never used a computer and wears a plastic wristwatch; he learned about managing finances from his father, a Lebanese immigrant who taught his son to keep a ledger of how he spent his 5-peso spending money, a ledger that he still keeps in his office. This enigmatic element and his wealth ensure that he remains a focus of interest for business and philanthropy journalists alike.