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Mexican billionaire Slim boosts stakes in Saks and New York Times

Thursday, August 25th 2011 - 06:31 UTC
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The richest man in the world now owns 7.2% of NYT class A shares The richest man in the world now owns 7.2% of NYT class A shares

Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim spent 8.8 million dollars to boost his stakes in Saks Inc. and New York Times adding to his biggest US holdings as the stock market slumped last week. Saks gained the most in almost a year.

Slim’s Inmobiliaria Carso SA investment fund bought 621,000 Saks shares on Aug. 18 for prices ranging from 7.72 to 8.01 dollars, according to regulatory filings. He also paid 6.83 to 7.09 dollars for 553,000 Times Co. shares the same day.

Named the world’s richest man for a second year in a row in March by Forbes magazine, Slim is following his long-held strategy of adding to his investments when markets slump. Slim’s publicly disclosed holdings are worth about 63 billion dollars.

Those holdings have declined by about 8.3 billion, or 12% from July 29 compared with a 10% drop in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.

About 63% of Slim’s holdings are in America Movil SAB, the largest mobile-phone carrier in the Americas. Most of his publicly disclosed wealth comes from Mexican companies he controls, including a bank, a retail chain and a construction firm.

Slim, who had been Saks’s largest shareholder before the purchases and last acquired the New York-based retailer’s shares in April 2009, raised his stake to 16% from 15.7%. The Times Co. acquisition boosted his stake in the New York Company Class A shares to 7.2% from 6.9%. Times Co.’s controlling family owns most of the Class B shares, which carry the right to elect 70% of the board of directors.

Saks, Slim’s biggest disclosed investment outside Mexico, has fallen 18% this year as investors anticipate a reduction in demand as US economic growth sputters. Times Co. has dropped 29% over the same span.

Slim’s Grupo Carso SAB operates two Saks stores in Mexico City through a licensing agreement with the retailer, according to the Mexican company’s 2010 annual report.

Slim has no similar partnership with Times Co. and has said he is a financial investor with no desire to control the publisher. Last month, Times Co. said it is repaying a 250 million loan granted by Slim earlier than planned.

Slim’s only other U.S. holding disclosed to regulators is a stake of less than 1% in Philip Morris International Inc., the cigarette seller on whose board he sits.

Last week, Saks posted a second-quarter loss of 8.4 million dollars after restructuring costs, narrowing from 32.2 million dollars in the year-ago quarter.

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