Richest Man Slim Loses $4 Billion as America Movil Drops

Carlos Slim, the world’s richest man, shed $3.8 billion from his net worth yesterday as shares of America Movil SAB slid 10 percent after the mobile phone operator said slower economic growth in Mexico hurt revenue.

Slim has a net worth of $74.2 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, $7.9 billion ahead of Microsoft Corp. founder Bill Gates.

“It’s still a drop in the bucket for him personally,” Christopher King, an analyst at Stifel Nicolaus & Co. in Baltimore, said yesterday. “But you look at the market cap that was lopped off of America Movil today, and you’ve got some investors saying it’s a broken story in the near term now.”

At the close in Mexico City, the shares had their biggest decline since April 2008 and the drop dragged down the benchmark IPC index, which fell 1.7 percent because Slim’s carrier makes up almost 20 percent of its weight.

Revenue from wireless phone calls in Mexico, America Movil’s biggest market, continued to fall in January after declining 3.8 percent in the fourth quarter, Chief Executive Officer Daniel Hajj said yesterday on a conference call. The slump is putting pressure on the company to seek growth in other areas, though those efforts have been met with mixed results. America Movil took a stake in the Netherlands’ Royal KPN NV last year -- an investment that has plunged in value.

Arturo Elias, Slim’s spokesman, didn’t immediately return phone and e-mail messages.

‘Monopolistic Status’

King, who has a hold rating on America Movil, the largest mobile-phone operator in the Americas, said that while he doesn’t think the company is broken, the fact that profit margins in Latin America aren’t expanding as growth slows is disconcerting.

“If they can’t hold up their margins, no one else really has a chance, given their footprint and their monopolistic status in Mexico and Colombia.”

The Bloomberg Billionaires Index takes measure of the world’s wealthiest people based on market and economic changes and Bloomberg News reporting. Each net worth figure is updated every business day at 5:30 p.m. in New York. The valuations are listed in U.S. dollars.

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