Optical/IP Networks

Not So Slim

3:00 PM -- Mexican telecom mogul Carlos "Slim" Helu has taken clear title of the most macho telecom mover and shaker in the world, with his new appointment to the #3 spot on the latest Forbes list of the richest people in the world.

That's right, number three, meaning, only slightly less rich than Bill Gates (#1) and Warren Buffett (#2) -- the two grand sugar daddies of the world. Helu has been steadily gaining in recent years. He's up from #4 last year -- and up from #17 on the 2004 list. (Warren Buffett, watch your back.)

Forbes, using wealth-calculating metrics that are somewhat mysterious and opaque, estimates that Helu boosted his net worth in 2005 by more than $6 billion, to $30 billion.

Helu owns large stakes in the Mexican incumbent wireline carrier, Teléfonos de México (Telmex) , and he runs his own wireless carrier, América Móvil S.A. de C.V. But he also dabbles in assorted industries including department stores, online banking, and cigarettes.

One of Helu's most famous scores in recent years came in his successful bet on the reorganization of MCI, which ended up being sold to Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ). Helu likely made at least a half a billion on that deal. (See Slim's Chance for Troubled Carriers, Slim Gets Fat on MCI Stake, Verizon Buys Slim's MCI Stock, Slim's Pickins, Verizon Closes MCI Buy, and Verizon Goes to $26). "Slim houses his Rodin sculptures in Mexico City's Museo Soumaya, the museum he funded and named after his late wife," says the Forbes write-up.

— R. Scott Raynovich, Editor in Chief, Light Reading

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