Ricardo Benjamín Salinas Pliego (born 19 October 1955) is a Mexican billionaire businessman, founder, and chairman of Grupo Salinas, a group of companies with interests in telecommunications, media, financial services, and retail stores.
He is the third richest person in Mexico and the 172nd richest person in the world with an estimated net worth of US$13.6 billion in February 2021.
Ricardo Salinas Pliego is a CPA graduate of the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM). After earning an MBA at Tulane University, he joined Elektra in 1981 as import manager. He learned the business moves when the company was in dire financial straits at the continuing devaluation of the eighties. Between 1981 and 1986, Salinas experimented with other businesses such as a restaurant in Monterrey, satellite dishes, and the sale of systems multi communication.
In 1987 Ricardo succeeded his father Hugo Salinas Price as CEO of Grupo Elektra. The company began as a family-owned furniture manufacturing company called Salinas & Rocha founded in 1906 by Salinas’ great-grandfather, Benjamin Salinas. In 1950, Hugo Salinas Rocha created Grupo Elektra, and when Ricardo Salinas became CEO of the company in 1987 he refocused Elektra on basic products: appliances, electronics, and furniture. Significantly, he developed at Elektra a vast new consumer market among Mexico’s lower-middle-income consumers by providing credit sales and diverse financial products and services.
Grupo Elektra expanded further and became Mexico’s biggest consumer-finance company when, in 2002, it won the first banking license granted to any Mexican institution in nearly a decade. The strategy was to build new markets by creating new buying power among classes of people largely ignored by most other major Mexican businesses. Thus was born Banco Azteca, which currently has operations in Mexico, Panama, Guatemala and Honduras. Subsequently, Grupo Elektra obtained two financial licenses from the federal government to create Seguros Azteca and Afore Azteca.
Salinas is also chairman of TV Azteca, one of the world’s two largest producers of Spanish-language television programming. Under his leadership, TV Azteca broke Mexico’s long-standing television monopoly through the successful privatization of a media package offered by the government.
In 2001, TV Azteca launched Azteca America, a wholly-owned Spanish-language broadcasting network aimed at the 50 million-strong Hispanic population of the United States. Azteca America had affiliates in 70 markets, including Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago, Miami and Houston, reaching 89 percent of the Hispanic population in the U.S. Azteca America was sold to HC2 Holdings in 2017.
In 2003, Salinas bought Iusacell (the first cell phone company in Mexico) and four years later, merged it with Unefon, another cell phone company, founded by him in 1999. However, in early 2015, Grupo Salinas announced the sale of Iusacell to AT&T Today, Totalplay, offers the most innovative internet and television services and telephony via fiber optics to home. Also, Totalplay Empresarial provides broadband internet access video surveillance, broadband interfaces, video conferencing, among other services to institutions and companies throughout Mexico.
In 2012, Grupo Elektra acquired Advance America, —currently Purpose Financial—, a company that provides short-term non-bank loans in the United States. Also put into operation Punto Casa de Bolsa. The Group operates more than six thousand points of contact in Mexico, the United States, Guatemala, Honduras, Peru, and Panama.
Salinas has participated and addressed The World Economic Forum, The Economist Roundtable on Mexico, the Young Presidents’ Organization, UCLA, the Institute of the Americas, Harvard Business School, and TED, where he discussed issues related to globalization, education, entrepreneurship, freedom, and opportunity in the BOP. He also has a blog where he publishes his business, political, economic, and cultural ideas. His articles have been published in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Hill, Newsweek in Spanish, La Opinión, and regularly writes in the Mexican press. Mr. Salinas was the first Mexican to elect the Board of Trustees of the Aspen Institute.
It was announced in 2020 that Salinas had 10% of his liquid portfolio invested in Bitcoin.
Bitcoin Magazine partners with Insightdefi’s Pascal Hügli to produce this exclusive Bitcoin interview with Mexican Billionaire and Bitcoin advocate Ricardo Salinas Pliego.
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