Sunday, May 31, 2009

Carlos Slim in the New Yorker

There's a great profile of Carlos Slim in the New Yorker this week. Slim is one of the richest men in the world and recently took a big stake in the financially troubled New York Times. Unfortunately, the online version is subscriber only. Here is a brief summary of the article (excerpts from the summary below).

There are a lot of similarities between Slim and Warren Buffet: early interest in investing and business, modest lifestyle, patriotic nationalism, humility, even a Graham and Dodd value style of investing in distressed assets. Slim taught linear programming while still an engineering student at UNAM (Autonomous National University of Mexico) and discovered compound interest at age 10. (He learned that at a 10 percent annual rate of return his money would double in 7 years, not 10 :-)

Near the end of the article the writer describes a meeting between Slim and one of his most visible critics, Denise Dresser, a Princeton-trained academic (Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México) and political analyst. I suspect a look through Dresser's work might be of interest for those who want to disentangle the political economy of Mexico.

... The foundation of his empire is Telmex, the telecommunications company, which he acquired in 1990, and the cell-phone business, América Móvil, which is now the third-largest company in Latin America. Although Slim has often been described as a merciless predator, he has never been caught in one of the scandals that periodically spill onto the front pages of Mexican newspapers. His nationalism, humility, and relatively modest personal habits stand as a kind of rebuke to the image that Mexicans typically have of their oligarchs. Tells about Slim’s father, Khalil, who emigrated to Mexico from Lebanon and became a successful merchant. Describes Slim’s childhood and his early interest in numbers and money. He invested from a youthful age and abandoned engineering to go into business. Discusses Slim’s visit to the 1964 World’s Fair and its influence on his interest in technology. Writer gives a brief history of the Times’s recent economic difficulties and considers why Slim would be interested in the paper. Also tells about David Geffen’s bid for the Times. Writer chronicles the growth of Slim’s business holdings from the mid-sixties to his acquisition of Telmex. Slim has often used recessions as an opportunity to buy businesses at reduced prices. Writer interviews Randall Stephenson [current AT&T CEO], who worked for Slim in the nineties. “He’s probably the most intelligent businessman I’ve met,” Stephenson says. ...

4 comments:

Chris said...

That's Denise Dresser.

Steve Hsu said...

Oops! Fixed.

Nolenehv said...

Dear Mr. Slim, I think the chance that you will read my comment is basically zero, as more than 4 000 000 people have already searched you on the internet.
I would like to compliment you on your status as a man with no scandals! I respect you because from what I have read you loved your wife very, very much. Is it possible for us to get in contact with one another, I would like to discuss with you business regarding the gallery. I pray that this mail finds you in good health and that we could speak soon. Regards, Nolene Holder Vorster (+27 South Africa) 076 186 0715.

Dan Gonzalez said...

Steve , just a clarification, Slim did not teach Linear programming at UNAM.(you legally cannot teach without a degree at the college level in Mexico without a degree, much less at UNAM) He was in charge of recitation for a linear programming class.

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