SYDNEY (Reuters) - Carlos Slim, ranked as the world's richest man, said on Wednesday he was open to the idea of investing in new energy projects outside Mexico.
The 70-year-old Mexican billionaire, who controls conglomerate Grupo Carso which has an energy fund, said that he could look at new opportunities in the power sector.
"Maybe," Slim said when asked if he planned new power investments, aside from hydro-electric projects in Panama where he has an interest.
Slim, whose far flung business empire includes retail, media and telecoms, said he was not eyeing investments in Australia and the Asia-Pacific but talked up the region's economic potential.
"We are not now doing anything but the potential of this country and this region is very important," Slim told reporters at the Forbes CEO conference in Sydney.
The cigar-smoking billionaire, who is ranked by Forbes magazine as the world's richest man with a fortune worth $53.5 billion, is famed for his modest lifestyle. He has lived in the same house for about 40 years and drives an aging Mercedes Benz.
Slim owns companies, including Telmex TELMEXL.MX and America Movil, which dominate Mexico's telecommunications market. He also owns a stake in New York Times Co (NYT.N) whose shares rose earlier this month on speculation Slim was looking to acquire a bigger stake.
Slim said the Australian government's plans to build a $38 billion fiber optic national broadband network appeared to be expensive and warned that technology changed rapidly.
In a media conference, where journalists were told to pre-submit questions for vetting, Slim was also asked for tips on how to become rich.
"It is not (about) the money/material issue but your family, your friends, your personal life; time to appreciate the colors, the sun sets, the flowers, the weather, the places, the people," he replied.
Editing by Ed Davies