MEXICO CITY, March 26 (Reuters) - Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Tuesday that billionaire Carlos Slim, the country’s richest man, has told him he aims to retire during his administration, and has committed to helping the economy in the process.
“He wants to end his business life helping economic growth and public welfare during this government,” Lopez Obrador told a regular morning news conference. “That’s what he offered me. He wants to retire and he wants to do it in this government.”
A spokesman for 79-year-old Slim, who for a time was listed by Forbes as the world’s richest man, did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Day-to-day management of his business empire, which ranges from telecommunications and construction to retail and banking, is in the hands of his sons and sons-in-law, though he is widely held to maintain a powerful influence over decision-making.
The leftist Lopez Obrador took office in December, and has canceled a partly-built $13 billion new Mexico City airport in which Slim and his family had major interests. He did not specify when Slim had told him he wanted to retire.
Lopez Obrador, who worked with Slim to redevelop parts of Mexico City when he was mayor of the capital between 2000 and 2005, argued that the airport was tainted by corruption and being built in an area that was geologically unsuitable.
The cancellation angered business leaders and the government spent its first few weeks paying off investors in the project.
The president said he planned to meet Slim soon to discuss plans for investment in Mexico. He did not go into detail.
Slim’s companies include telecoms giant America Movil and bank Grupo Financiero Inbursa.
By law Mexican presidents can only serve a single six-year term. Lopez Obrador’s term is due to end in November 2024. (Reporting by Dave Graham Editing by Susan Thomas)