I was travelling over the weekend, and so I missed David Luchnow’s
of Carlos Slim in the WSJ. Boy am I glad I found it now! It’s
an excellent piece – I think the first-ever story I’ve ever read about
Slim where the writer is both critical of the Mexican squillionaire and also
managed to get an interview with him. (The link is free: you don’t need to be
a WSJ.com subscriber to read it.)
Luchnow is actually a bit more critical of Slim than I would be, bashing him
as a heavy-handed monopolist (which he is) while downplaying the point that
he’s an incredibly astute businessman who has made many billions of dollars
in much more competitive telecommunications markets outside Mexico. But the
article is very solid, very well reported, and even has a quote from secretive
Mexican financier David Martinez, who compares Slim unfavorably to US robber
barons of old.
Luchnow also uses the power of the WSJ to bestow the title of World’s Richest
Man on Slim – something which Forbes, for one, has been reluctant to do.
Luchnow does not, however, credit the enormous and across-the-board rerating
of Latin American stocks for Slim’s wealth, which is weird. Yes, the man is
worth $20 billion more today than he was a couple of years ago. But essentially
all of that increase in wealth can be explained by the fact that Latin stocks,
which used to trade at a discount to their US peers, now trade at essentially
the same multiples. And although Slim is certainly a powerful man, even he can’t
move p/e ratios across the entire continent.