Carlos Slim is not interested in buying Banamex, according to someone familiar with his thinking. A crown jewel of the Mexican financial system, Banamex is said to be reluctantly for sale by Citigroup, under pressure to raise capital.
Citigroup paid $12.5 billion for Banamex in 2001. Mexican financiers estimate it is worth $9 to $10 billion. While it has declined in value, Banamex may have held up well if those numbers are accurate, especially if compared to Citigroup, Bank of America , Morgan Stanley , Goldman Sachs , and JP Morgan Chase .
Slim, a telecom magnate and the second richest man in the world, is a natural buyer. First, he has the money. Slim is worth roughly $30 billion according to Sentido Comun, a website that monitors his wealth via his known stock holdings. In addition, he controls a large finance company, Imbursa, which would provide strategic synergies.
Observers say Slim may be reluctant to purchase the bank because he is already a lightning rod for criticism in Mexico, primarily for being so wealthy in a country with high levels of poverty. He has long been accused of being a monopolist; he controls roughly 90 percent of all landlines in Mexico. However, his control of the overall telecom market has eroded with the advent of wireless phones.
Slim was once said to be worth roughly $60 billion dollars, but he too has suffered in this economic climate. In late 2008, he said in an interview with CNBC that the current recession could turn into a depression without government action. (See that interview in the video)
He is a major shareholder in Saks Fifth Avenue , and recently extended financing to the NY times, of which he owns a large stake has well.