Monday, March 12, 2007

Lebanese entrepreneur closing in on Bill Gates as world's richest person

Lebanese entrepreneur closing in on Bill Gates as world's richest person
Compiled by Daily Star staff
Saturday, March 10, 2007

A self made Lebanese origin billionaire is closing in on Microsoft magnate Bill Gates and whole sale company owner Warren Buffet. Carlos Slim Helou, who set up the largest telecom company in Mexico, became the third richest person in the world after Gates and Buffet, according to the prestigious business magazine Forbes on Friday. His fortune is estimated at more than $49 billion. "The world's third-richest man is $19 billion richer this year and catching up with Americans Bill Gates and Warren Buffett thanks to a strong Mexican equities market and the performance of his wireless telephone company," Forbes said in its annual report.

The son of a Lebanese immigrant, Helou made his first fortune in 1990 when he bought fixed line operator Telefonos de Mexico (Telmex) in a privatization. Last year he spent $3.7 billion to buy the Latin American operations of Verizon Communications, expanding his empire into Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. In recent years he has donated close to $4 billion to education and health projects, and to the revitalization of downtown Mexico City's historical district.

Saudi prince Alwaleed bin Talal's rank fell from 5th to 13th, although his fortune remained at $20 billion. The nephew of the Saudi king, Alwaleed is considered the most active and successful investor in the Middle East. His risky bet on Citigroup in the early 1990s paid off hugely and accounts for nearly half his fortune. A plan to list shares in his Kingdom Holding Company on the Saudi stock exchange late last year was delayed by weakness in the Saudi market, which has fallen 60 percent since it peaked in late February 2006. The drop in value of Alwaleed's Saudi holdings was offset by gains in investments such as Citigroup and News Corp. Kuwait's Al-Kharafi family was ranked the 52nd wealthiest man in the world with a fortune of more than $11.5 billion.

A number of other Lebanese entrepreneurs also earned a spot on the Forbes list. Saad Hariri, who inherited part of his father's fortune, is estimated to be worth $2.3 billion, while his eldest brother Baaha holds the same fortune. Forbes said that the Saudi-born Lebanese parliamentary majority leader is pressing for a peace deal in Beirut and for an international tribunal on the slaying of his father, Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. He is also the general manager of Saudi Oger, the family's $8 billion holding company. "When the family's leading politician and Georgetown grad isn't working, he likes to scuba dive and draw on Cuban cigars," the magazine said. The Forbes list also saw newcomers from Lebanon. Former Prime Minister Najib Mikati has a wealth of more than $2.3 billion. Forbes said that the former Lebanese premier, who is viewed as "a popular and moderate figure," founded telecom company Investcom with brother Maher at height of Lebanon's Civil War in 1982. The family sold the company in June 2006 to South Africa's MTN Group for a sum of $5.5 billion. - Agencies

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Carlos slim helou as i heard is the owner of chase bank of manhattan. His daughter known by Thaly Boustros (God knows why) is a very well known face in the modeling industry. Both of them do lots of charity work everywhere. Thaly is very active in this fieled and is doing lots of things to lebanese organisations to take care of children. Carlos is busy with enforcing the lebanese flag everywhere where he goes.

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