MEXICO CITY (AP) – Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim said Monday that his companies plan to invest $8.3 billion in 19 Latin American countries, mainly in Brazil and Mexico.
Slim, considered the world’s richest man with an estimated fortune of $53.5 billion, said he will put about $2.5 billion into Brazil — the region’s largest market — and invest $3.7 billion in Mexico.
Part of the Mexico outlay includes about $1.6 billion in America Movil, Latin America’s largest phone service provider. Another $2.1 billion will go toward Slim’s other retail and construction businesses in Mexico, including $1.1 billion in his infrastructure company, IDEAL.
Most of the Brazil investment will be in the telecommunications area, he said. The remaining funds will be invested across the region.
Slim told reporters during a three-hour news conference that he hopes his investments will eventually bring broadband Internet access to two out of three Mexicans, as well as two out of every three people in areas of Latin America where America Movil operates.
Another project will aim to create a virtual technological university in Mexico this year so that young people can study for a degree via the Internet, he said.
Slim said investors who shy away from Mexico because of widespread drug-related violence risk missing out on a market with low interest rates and rising expectations.
“Whoever does not invest for various reasons — fear, caution or whatever — is going to be left behind,” he said.
Separately on Monday, President Felipe Calderon’s office announced that the InterContinental Hotels Group will invest $500 million in Mexico over the next three years in 47 hotel projects, with about 5,000 rooms.
The announcement followed a meeting between Calderon and Jim Abrahamson, the hotel chain’s regional president for the Americas, at the presidential residence.