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Fri, Apr 13, 2007 - Page 10 News List

Telecoms tycoon becomes world's second wealthiest

AFP , NEW YORK

A Mexican telecommunications tycoon has become the second richest man in the world, pushing US investment guru Warren Buffett down to third place and breathing down the neck of Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Forbes.com reported on Wednesday.

Carlos Slim Helu quietly slipped past Buffett at the end of last month thanks to the rising value of his stocks, and was valued at the close of trade on Wednesday at US$53.1 billion, US$700 million more than Buffett, Forbes said.

Now only Gates, valued as the richest man in the world for the last 13 years, is ahead of Slim.

And while slim may be catching up, Gates, who stepped aside as Microsoft chief in 2000 to devote his energies to the philanthropic foundation he runs with his wife Melinda, is still sitting on a nest egg of US$56 billion.

Slim, 67, has added a staggering US$23 billion to his personal fortune over the last 14 months, thanks largely to a strong Mexican economy and a stock market that jumped nearly 50 percent last year.

He accrued US$4 billion of that just since Forbes unveiled its annual rich list early last month, giving Slim the equivalent of roughly 7 percent of Mexico's annual economic output, Forbes said.

The tycoon has brushed off criticism that his Telmex company is effectively a monopoly, saying earlier this year: "When you live for others' opinions, you are dead. I don't want to live thinking about how I'll be remembered."

He has derided Gates and Buffett for giving away so much of their wealth, reportedly saying: "Poverty isn't solved with donations," Forbes said.

Building businesses, he reportedly said, did more for society than "going around like Santa Claus."

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