Slim Fast

Carlos Slim may be sticking to his wealth diet. The billionaire’s Mexican telecom monopoly for years crushed rivals, squeezed customers and helped finance a sprawling global empire. A 2014 competition law attracted U.S. rival AT&T to the market and knocked Slim from his perch as the world’s richest man. América Móvil is grumbling about low prices, but they could last a while longer. With some 365 million wireless, landline, broadband and TV connections throughout Latin America, Slim’s dominance is unmistakable. The Telmex business he bought from the Mexican state in 1990 enabled him to fend off all challengers. Two years ago, new laws forced Slim to shrink his market share. It was around that time his fortune peaked at some $82 billion, according to Forbes. Slim’s net worth is now estimated at $49 billion. Since the regulatory reform, AT&T under boss Randall Stephenson has invested $7 billion in acquisitions and network expansion in Mexico. The $265 billion company is effectively subsidizing cheap wireless data plans with unlimited calling and roaming plus free social networking. To do so, AT&T lost $200 million on its Mexican operations last quarter alone. América Móvil boss Daniel Hajj said this week that prices are “really, really low” compared to other countries. He further called out AT&T’s losses. Móvil is feeling the pinch, too. Its profit from April to June fell by nearly half from a year ago.

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