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Telecoms to art, Carlos Slim promotes investment

MEXICO CITY, Mar 9 – Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim, who on Wednesday made the top of the Forbes rich list for a second consecutive year with a fortune of $74 billion, has investments from telecoms to oil and art.

Slim saw his fortune inflate $20.5 billion in 2011, according to Forbes, placing him a large step above US tycoons Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, who have recently given large chunks of their fortunes to charity.

The 71-year-old mustachioed Mexican, who is of Lebanese origin, earned his wealth building up the telephone monopoly Telmex after acquiring it from the Mexican government in 1990.

Telmex and cell phone company Telcel, also the country\’s largest, are currently fighting disputes with Mexican cable and telephone companies seeking more access to their telephone infrastructure, as Slim seeks to move into TV.

But that has failed to distract him from a hive of activity, even opening a spectacular Mexico City museum this month, drawing on his collection of more than 66,000 works of art, including masters such as Rodin, Cezanne and Renoir.

Last month, Slim\’s Grupo Carso announced it would acquire 70 percent of the Tabasco Oil, which has exploration and production operations in Colombia.

Meanwhile in January, Slim said he would invest $8.3 billion dollars this year in 19 countries, mostly in Latin America.

"Whomever doesn\’t invest for any reason, out of fear, precaution or whatever, will stay behind," the billionaire said at a recent news conference.

"Whomever doesn\’t invest in telecoms, for example, will then accuse us of being dominant and monopolistic and such things, but you have to invest," he added, in a jab at the companies with which he is at odds.

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A recent biography claimed Slim limits his monthly salary to 24,000 dollars and travels in a Suburban, while his lack of ostentation is noted by many who meet him.

Slim began his business career aged 10, selling sweets and drinks to his family, and later made his name with aggressive investments during crises.

His empire is ever-present in Mexico, including department stores, construction companies, mining and the Inbursa financial group, as well as across Latin America.

He loaned 250 million dollars to the New York Times in January 2009, which the company plans to pay back early next year.

Slim\’s private art collection is the largest in Latin America, including some 300 works by French sculptor Auguste Rodin.

Many of the artworks are now on display in the curving, metal Soumaya Museum, named after Slim\’s late wife, which is part of an 800-million-dollar urban development scheme in Mexico City.

Slim said the museum aimed to boost "human development," underlining that there would be no entrance fee.

A baseball fanatic, Slim has handed over the daily operations of his companies to family members and business partners.

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