MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican telecom tycoon Carlos Slim, who is estimated by some calculations to be wealthier than Microsoft founder Bill Gates, said Thursday he did not care if he was the world’s richest person.
“It’s water off a duck’s back to me,” the cigar-smoking Slim told foreign correspondents. “I don’t know if I’m No. 1, No. 20, or No. 2,000. It doesn’t matter.”
In July, a journalist who tracks the fortunes of wealthy Mexicans said Slim was worth an estimated $67.8 billion and had overtaken Gates as the world’s richest person.
Slim hit the No. 1 spot after a recent surge in the share price of his America Movil, Latin America’s largest cell phone company, according to Eduardo Garcia of the online financial publication Sentido Comun.
Garcia said that made him close to $8.6 billion wealthier than Gates, whose estimated worth was $59.2 billion.
Slim, 67, told foreign journalists at a luncheon on Thursday that making sure his job was compatible with his family or personal life was more important than his wealth.
Forbes magazine reported in April that Slim had overtaken billionaire U.S. investor Warren Buffett for the No. 2 spot in the world’s richest stakes, but it is not scheduled to recalculate Slim’s wealth until next year.
Slim, known for his Midas touch in turning struggling businesses into profit-making machines, told Reuters this year he did not calculate his fortune on a regular basis.
In Mexico, a small elite holds most of the country’s wealth and about half the population lives on less than $5 a day.
Slim said Thursday his charitable foundations planned to invest $300 million in the next few years to build 100 schools in poor regions of Mexico that will focus on digital education. The plan would later be expanded throughout Latin America.