* Minera Frisco surges almost 17 pct after spinoff
* Listing hopes doubled parent Grupo Carso’s value
* Frisco aims to tap surge in metals prices (Updates prices)
By Michael O’Boyle
MEXICO CITY, Jan 6 (Reuters) - Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim’s bet on listing his mining company Minera Frisco paid off on Thursday as investors flocked to get a piece of the metals venture of the world’s richest man.
Slim, who made his fortune by building up one of the world’s biggest telecommunications empires, has been ramping up his mining business to capture record metals prices that are rising on China’s growing appetite for commodities and investor demand for safe-haven gold.
Slim’s plan to spin off Minera Frisco and a real estate company from his conglomerate Grupo Carso sent its shares soaring in 2010 and added billions to his fortune.
“All his companies have gone up, but Grupo Carso’s gains have been a big part of Slim getting to the top of the rich list,” said Rogelio Gallegos, a fund manager at brokerage Actinver in Mexico City. “The whole market likes commodities.”
Shares in Frisco (MFRISCOA1.MX) gained 16.80 percent to 35.20 pesos on Thursday in their first day of trading.
Rumors are flying that Slim might put his billions to work with other precious metals mining acquisitions. But Slim may be loath to pay high for companies riding the commodities boom.
“Slim will only buy a company when the price is right, never at a premium. He will look for some opportunities, but I don’t think he is in any hurry,” Gallegos said.
Slim became rich by taking over Mexico’s telephone monopoly, launching cell phone operator America Movil (AMXL.MX) and buying up companies across the Americas. Slim’s telecoms, Grupo Carso and his bank Inbursa (GFINBURO.MX) account for more than one-third of the value of Mexico’s stock exchange.
After the latest spinoffs, Grupo Carso (GCARSOA1.MX) will still hold assets like Sanborns department stores, an oil well drilling operation, a building company and a copper wire manufacturer.
Slim and his family received close to four-fifths of the new shares of Minera Frisco and real estate business Inmuebles Carso INCARSOB1.MX, in line with their holdings of Grupo Carso.
Grupo Carso’s price jumped when the spin-off was announced in August last year, helping its stock price nearly double in 2010, but the stock recently pared gains. The company’s total market capitalization rose by around $5.4 billion since Slim’s August announcement to almost $14.6 billion before today’s listing, according to Reuters data.
Few analysts cover Grupo Carso, since the stock is thinly traded and is closely held mostly by Slim. Some were baffled by the gains in the share price and complained that Slim has been miserly in providing detailed information on the companies.
Analysts at Citigroup, HSBC and Santander all had deemed Grupo Carso overvalued in the run-up to the listing.
Minera Frisco’s mines produce zinc, gold, lead, silver and copper. Gold and copper have been hitting record highs and silver is near a 30-year peak.
Inmuebles Carso, which buys, sells and develops buildings for offices malls, hospitals, hotels and colleges, did not fare very well in its first trades. Its shares INCARSOB1.MX briefly rose, before sinking 15.2 percent to 11.39 pesos. The stripped down Grupo Carso (GCARSOA1.MX) rose 0.61 percent to 34.65 pesos. (Additional reporting by Lizbeth Salazar; editing by Andre Grenon)