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Alberto Baillères Alberto Baillères, the 'silver king.'

Mexico’s King Midas, head of conglomerate Grupo Bal, retires at 89

Alberto Baillères ran the business for 54 years

Alberto Baillères, Mexico’s fourth richest person, has decided to retire at the age of 89 after 54 years at the helm of Grupo Bal, a conglomerate of at least 15 companies with interests in a range of sectors including mining, retail, insurance, finance and beverages.

Alejandro Baillères, the magnate’s son, will take over as head of the conglomerate, which includes companies such as the mining firms Peñoles and Fresnillo – the world’s largest silver miner, the department store chain Palacio de Hierro, the insurer GNP and the asset manager and stockbroker ValMex.

Several of Grupo Bal’s listed companies announced Baillères’ decision to step down to investors. The 89-year-old, dubbed King Midas and “the silver king” for his lucrative mining interests, certainly has enough wealth to fund a comfortable retirement: Forbes magazine said last month that his net worth is US $10.48 billion, a 63.8% increase compared to a year earlier.

President López Obrador said Friday that the announcement that Baillères’ son will succeed him is “good news” because it will provide stability and confidence and lead to more investment and more employment.

“The process of handing over administrative command in Grup Bal has ended,” he said before highlighting that Baillères’ companies employ 75,000 people in Mexico.

In praising the tycoon and his companies, López Obrador put aside past bad blood: Baillères was a member of a group of powerful businessmen who campaigned against his third and ultimately successful tilt at the presidency on the grounds that he represented a risk to the economy.

While stepping back from the day-to-day management of Grupo Bal, Baillères, a bullfighting enthusiast and father of seven, will remain an honorary adviser to the conglomerate. That will provide certainty to investors, according to experts consulted by the newspaper Milenio.

The fact that Baillères, who will turn 90 in August, will still have some say in the running of the conglomerate – founded by his father Raúl Baillères in the first half of the 20th century – will boost investors’ confidence and ensure that they don’t abandon Grupo Bal companies, said Alejandra Vargas, a mining and industrial sector analyst at the financial company Ve Por Más.

The magnate’s decision to stay on as an adviser provides a “period of certainty for investors,” said Óscar Fonseca, director of the business school at the Tec de Monterrey campus in Mexico City. “… These changes of leadership are planned and prepared,” he added.

Source: El País (sp), Milenio (sp) 

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