2005-12-19-bill-gates.jpgI read with great interest and a touch of nostalgia, the business news’s headlines that Bill Gates is no longer the richest man in the world; he has been dethroned by Carlos Slim.

Carlos Slim’s total worth reportedly now stands at about $62.9 billion; Bill Gates is only worth about $59.2 billion.

For Slim, a onetime math instructor, this was no mere academic exercise. Yes, he wanted to instill in his sons the same lesson his father – a Lebanese immigrant who started acquiring real estate in during the Revolution of 1910 – taught him: Though Mexico will have its ups and downs, don’t ever count the country out. But Slim wasn’t just teaching, he was buying. He spent $55 million on an Insurance Company. He took a stake in retailer Sanborns. He invested in a hotel chain.

Though he taught math to make money in college, Slim graduated with a degree in engineering from the National Autonomous University of Mexico in the early 1960s. He then started a stock brokerage in and began to acquire industrial companies he deemed bargains. He would reinvest the cash from those businesses or use it to acquire additional properties.

After 13 years as the world’s richest person, Bill Gates appears to have been dethroned. But there will probably be no sobbing inside his estate. The main reason: a 27 percent surge in the stock price of Slim’s wireless company, America Movil, in the second quarter.

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

At a Microsoft conference in Redmond last year, advertising executive and TV host Donny Deutsch asked Gates if he would be upset if someday he were no longer the world’s richest man. “I wish I wasn’t,” Gates replied. “There’s nothing good that comes out of that.” Mr. Gates has headed the Forbes list of the worlds wealthiest for more than a decade. But, like Mr. Buffett, he is rapidly becoming as well known for giving his money away as he is for accumulating it.

Slim’s ascendancy to the top of the world’s financial pyramid bumps Berkshire Hathaway whiz Warren Buffet to third place.

Slim, meanwhile, seems just about as interested in holding the “world’s richest” title as Gates was. Slim’s spokesman was heard saying “As he has said many times himself, he is not in any competition.”

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