Every year there is interest in who is the richest man in the world. People want to know the answer due to more than just curiosity. Some people are interested in his secret. They want to know how he got there and how he made his money. Often, people hope to learn something from the man’s work ethic or his implementation of ideas in order to improve their own finances.
The richest man in the world in 2012 is a Mexican businessman by the name of Carlos Slim Helu. This is the second year in a row that he has been in first place among the world’s richest men. Tellingly he is the CEO of two telecommunications companies in Mexico. However, he also holds a considerable number of shares in various companies through Grupo Carson SAB, his conglomerate.
Helu was born in 1940 in Mexico City. His parents were Maronite Christians from Lebanon. His father built himself up from ownership of a dry goods store. By the time that Carlos Helu was born, the family held considerable wealth in land and banks in Mexico.
Carlos Helu learned business form his father. At age 12, he bought shares in a Mexican bank under his father’s guidance. He studied engineering in college but also taught classes in math and computer programming at the same time.
He started out buying small businesses. By age 26, he was already worth $40 million USD. In the 1970‘s, he invested in property and in mines. He also began investing in print businesses at this point.
The economic contraction in Mexico in the 1980’s proved to be Helu’s real opportunity. As businesses failed and the peso devalued, he bought up low-cost shares in many diverse businesses in Mexico. These included tire companies, hotels and food retailers. As the economy improved, so did his fortunes.
In the 1990’s, he moved into telecommunications. In 1999, Carlos bought shares in the American cellular company Tracfone. His ventures, by this point, had become so successful that he split his investment conglomerate into three companies. At present, he is estimated to be worth a total of $74 billion.