Bill Gates is no more the Wealthiest !!!!!!!!

With nearly $60 billion, Mexican telecoms tycoon Carlos Slim Helu has overtaken Microsoft founder Bill Gates for the title of the world's richest person, Fortune magazine reports in its latest edition.

The strong performance by Slim's holdings on the Mexican stock exchange in recent months had pushed Gates into second place, after the US software magnate held the title for at least a decade.

"By our calculations, the 67-year-old Slim has amassed a $59 billion fortune, based on the value of his public holdings at the end of July," Fortune said in its latest edition, due to hit newsstands this week.

"This number puts him just ahead of perennial number one, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, whose net worth is estimated to be at least $58 billion."

Mexican financial Web site Sentido Comun reported last month that Slim, a heavyset and bearded 67-year-old, had overtaken Gates and estimated his personal fortune at almost $68 billion.

While Slim has been steadily expanding his mobile phone and other businesses throughout Latin America, Gates, by comparison, has been channeling his energies into the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a non-profit organization he set up in 2000 to tackle health, education, and literacy problems around the world.

"Gates is selling off his single greatest source of wealth, Microsoft stock, to fund his foundation, while Slim's fortune is growing at a stunning clip. His net worth jumped $12 billion this year alone," Fortune said.

Slim's family holdings represented more than 5 percent of Mexico's gross domestic product last year and companies under his control make up one-third of the Mexican stock market, according to Fortune.

The magazine labeled him a modern-day John D. Rockefeller, the US industrialist who amassed a huge personal fortune in the early 20th century.

Slim's holdings include banking, automotive, and especially telecoms interests. His Telefonos de Mexico (Telmex) controls 92 percent of the country's phone lines.

However, he has a reputation for austerity, rather than flamboyance. His America Movil wireless service, which claims a 70 percent market share, is based in a converted tire factory. He was known for sporting a plastic watch.

His father ran a store in Mexico City after immigrating from Lebanon in 1902 and went on to buy commercial real estate during the 1910 revolution.

Slim studied engineering in the 1960s before starting a stock brokerage. He soon began to acquire companies, turning around a number of failing businesses during the crippling Latin American economic crisis of the 1980s.

By the end of the decade, he was one of Mexico's top businessmen.

He started buying into Telefonos de Mexico in 1990, when he partnered with France Telecom and what is now AT&T to pick up a 20 percent share of the state-owned Mexican company for some $2 billion, according to Fortune.

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

He once derided Gates and fellow philanthropist and investment guru Warren Buffett - until recently the world's second-richest man - for giving away so much of their wealth, reportedly saying: "Poverty is not solved with donations."

Building businesses, he was reported to have said, did more for society than "going around like Santa Claus."


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