MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexican billionaire Alberto Bailleres, a mining and retail tycoon known as a patron of higher education and the arts, has died, aged 90.
Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard on Thursday tweeted that he mourned the death of a “distinguished Mexican businessman”.
A long-time fixture on Forbes magazine’s rich list with fellow Mexicans such as Carlos Slim and German Larrea, Bailleres made his fortune across a range of industries, and was a key sponsor of one of the country’s most prestigious universities.
The founder of Mexico mining company Industrias Penoles, a world leader in silver production, Bailleres had an estimated net worth of $8.6 billion in 2022, according to Forbes.
Bailleres was for decades chairman of the board of trustees of the Instituto Tecnologico Autonomo de Mexico (ITAM), a university founded in 1946 by a group of bankers, industrialists and businessmen led by his father, Raul Bailleres.
Many technocrats and officials who helped craft Mexican economic policy for decades were schooled at ITAM.
“His academic legacy at ITAM is invaluable,” said Jose Antonio Meade, a former Mexican finance minister and ITAM graduate. “He transformed each and every sector and life he touched.”
Bailleres headed the boards of several large Mexican companies, many of which he founded, and also held senior board positions at other major Mexican firms.
His myriad companies extended through sectors from insurance to retail and are grouped under the umbrella of Grupo BAL, headquartered in a distinctive triangular building in one of Mexico City’s most wealthy neighborhoods.
BAL includes Fresnillo, another leading Mexican mining company, Grupo Palacio de Hierro, which operates a chain of upmarket department stores, and insurance company Grupo Nacional Provincial.
Although Bailleres avoided the limelight, he was sometimes photographed at high-society events or hosting parties at his Palacio de Hierro stores. He was the owner of a 92 meter (300 foot) super-yacht called the Mayan Queen.
Bailleres was born in 1931. As a teenager, he attended military school in the United States, where he was instilled with “a sense of order and discipline,” according to a biography on the ITAM website.
Bailleres had a precocious talent for business. While studying economics at university, he joined Mexican state-owned bank Banco de Comercio in 1951, and became a branch manager while still an undergraduate.
Afterwards Bailleres held several positions at top Mexican brewer Cerveceria Cuauhtemoc Moctezuma, now a subsidiary of Heineken International, and Palacio de Hierro.
He was married to Teresa Gual, with whom he had seven children.
(Reporting by Julia Symmes Cobb; Additional reporting by Stefanie Eschenbacher and Diego Ore; Editing by Drazen Jorgic)