Carlos Slim’s Diminishing Riches Tied to Slump in Mexican Peso

  • Peso is down 6.7 percent this year and 18 percent in 12 months
  • His carrier America Movil fell the most in 8 years last month

Billionaire Carlos Slim’s efforts to distance his investments from Mexico haven’t gone quickly enough to avoid a tumble down the ranks of the world’s richest people.

Slim, 76, has seen his fortune shrink $2.1 billion this year as Mexico’s peso weakened the most among the world’s top currencies and shares of his telecommunications giant America Movil SAB suffered its biggest one-day drop in eight years last month. He’s now ranked as the eighth-richest person, sliding from third as recently as September.

Slim has pushed to expand in Europe, including a recent bid for Spain’s Fomento de Construcciones & Contratas SA. Still, a significant chunk of his wealth comes from America Movil. The wireless carrier, which is facing an antitrust crackdown in its home market, records its sales in pesos even though it operates throughout Latin America and in other markets, and that has weighed on results.

The peso has slid 6.7 percent against the dollar this year and is down 18 percent in the past 12 months, putting Slim’s $50.1 billion fortune at a disadvantage against his billionaire peers. That’s raised the cost of doing business.

“It becomes a lot more expensive to operate,” said Jose Otero, director of Latin America and the Caribbean for trade group 5G Americas. “Anything from the equipment you use for infrastructure, to the mobile phones -- it’s all paid by the company in hard currency” like dollars and euros.

Arturo Elias Ayub, Slim’s spokesman, didn’t return a call seeking comment.

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