Has Bill Gates been knocked off the world's pinnacle of wealth?

A respected Mexican journalist says magnate Carlos Slim may have supplanted Gates as the world's richest man, thanks to a healthy bump in the stock price for a mobile phone company Slim controls.

According to the calculations by Eduardo Garcia, who runs a financial Web site called Sentido Comun ("Common Sense"), Slim's worth climbed to $67.8 billion at the end of June. He calculated Microsoft Corp. founder Gates' worth at $59 billion in June.

In its annual list of the world's billionaires, issued in March, Forbes magazine estimated Slim's wealth at $49 billion, putting him in third place behind Gates, with $56 billion, and U.S. investor Warren Buffett, with $52 billion. In an April report on its Web site, Forbes bumped Slim up to No. 2, estimating that his companies' worth had increased to just over $53 billion.

Slim controls Mexico's largest fixed-line telephone company, Telefonos de Mexico, or Telmex, and owns other businesses involved in everything from construction and music to restaurants and cigarettes.

Garcia says Slim's growing fortune was helped by a 26.5 percent second-quarter increase in share prices for America Movil SA, the largest wireless service provider in Latin America, which Slim controls.

Garcia's estimate of Gates' latest worth is based on a 5.7 percent second-quarter increase in Microsoft shares. But he acknowledges that his new calculations do not include possible gains in Gates' holdings outside of Microsoft, which Forbes says represent more than half of the software mogul's fortune.

"But a 26 percent growth rate for a world company like America Movil, that's hard to top for one quarter," Garcia said.

In a statement Tuesday, Forbes did not comment on Garcia's report but said the magazine's next valuation of Gates' wealth will appear in September, in the annual Forbes 400 list of the richest Americans. Slim's wealth won't be recalculated by Forbes until its next world billionaires list in March 2008, the company said.

Slim spokesman Arturo Elias Ayub told The Associated Press that Slim does not pay much attention to these lists.

"As he has said many times himself, he is not in any competition," Ayub said.

Source: AP


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