Mexican telecom magnate Carlos Slim has quietly overtaken investor Warren Buffett as the world's second-richest man and is close to wresting the top spot from Bill Gates, Forbes magazine reported Wednesday.
In the two months since Forbes calculated its 2007 wealth rankings, the 67-year-old Slim's fortune rose $4 billion to $53.1 billion, while Buffett's holdings slipped to $52.4 billion as of March 29.
In an article on its Web site, Forbes attributed part of Slim's "amazing run" to a 15% increase in the stock price of Carso Global Telecom, part of a larger rally in Mexican stocks. Slim's America Movil cell phone company also soared on news of a possible acquisition of Telecom Italia.
In the 2007 rankings released March 8 -- but prepared almost a month earlier -- Forbes had listed Slim as the world's third-richest man and estimated Gates' fortune at $56 billion.
Slim said shortly afterward that he wasn't concerned about his ranking or taking over the top spot, but he expressed differences with Buffett, the chairman of Berkshire Hathaway , and Gates, the chairman and co-founder of Microsoft.
"It's not about having who knows how many bonds, to spend them on whatever one wants or live it up all year," said Slim, an engineer who wears modest suits and whose main indulgence appears to be expensive cigars. "I don't have apartments abroad. I don't have a house abroad."
Slim, who owns Mexico's dominant phone company and has holdings throughout Latin America, said his vision of a businessman's role in the world is at odds with that of Buffett, who announced last year he would donate $1.5 billion every year to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
"It's very interesting, because he leaves those who are running his affairs the responsibility of being very profitable," Slim said of Buffett. "If they're inefficient or don't get real-term returns, they're not going to be running anything."
"Our concept is more to accomplish and solve things, rather than giving -- that is, not going around like Santa Claus," Slim said. "Poverty isn't solved with donations."