Tycoon Carlos Slim discusses local projects

15Mar10

Carlos Slim Helu, Mexican tycoon of Lebanese origin, met on Friday with the country’s three top leaders and received an honorary medal for his achievements.

Slim met with President Michel Sleiman at the Presidential Palace in Baabda and received Lebanon’s honorary golden medal.

Slim, who is being accompanied by a delegation during his visit, discussed with Sleiman possible investment projects in Lebanon, a statement from Baabda Palace said.

The president expressed his wish to reinforce ties between Lebanon and the Lebanese Diaspora, especially Lebanese expatriates who have become leading businessman, or have occupied political or economic positions.

Sleiman stressed the need to “encourage expatriates to invest in Lebanon, especially since the country is witnessing economic growth and political and security stability.”

The two figures discussed the improvements which have occurred in Lebanon over the last two years and Slim implied that he was ready to invest in several productive projects in various fields.

Sleiman later held a dinner to honor Slim for having “raised Lebanon’s name very high across the world.”

They tackled as well the role the Lebanese Diaspora played in the world and Berri hoped Slim would attend the Lebanese Diaspora meeting this summer.

The tycoon arrived Thursday in Beyrouth, his second visit to Lebanon since 1964.

Slim was born in Mexico City in 1940.

The annual Forbes ranking of billionaires recently named him the world’s richest man, dethroning Microsoft founder Bill Gates. His fortune was estimated at a net worth of $53.5 billion, according to Forbes, which said his wealth increased by $18.5 billion in 12 months. Gates slipped to second place, with $53 billion.

Slim studied civil engineering and later built up the telephone monopoly Telmex after acquiring it from the Mexican government in 1990.

He is a widower with six children and has handed over the daily operations of his companies to his sons and business partners, but remains a well-known public figure in Mexico.

He has recently made investments in telecommunications across the Americas, and has diversified his holding in areas of water and electric utilities.

Slim is scheduled to share his career experience on Wednesday, when he is scheduled to speak at a conference held at the American University of Beirut.

The 70-year-old magnate also met with Speaker Nabih Berri at Ain al-Tineh, and Prime Minister Saad Hariri at his residence in Beyrouth. Slim also received a tour of the Beyrouth’s centre-ville and a briefing about the activities of Solidere.

Berri discussed with Slim the possibility of launching projects in Lebanon, especially in the south and Jezzine, to “support locals in their struggle.”

Related News: Carlos Slim attends mass in Bkirki.