Ricardo Salinas Pliego is one of Mexico’s most prominent businessmen and the owner of Grupo Salinas.
Ricardo Salinas Pliego heads an extensive business empire that includes Elektra, Banco Azteca and TV Azteca, the latter the country’s second-largest open TV network.
Salinas Pliego was born in 1955 in the northern Mexican city of Monterrey, where he studied accountancy at the local ITESM institute, before completing an MBA at Tulane University in New Orleans. He joined Grupo Elektra in 1981 as import director, before becoming president of the company in 1987, promoted by his father, Hugo Salinas Price, who had been CEO of Elektra since 1961, having previously served as managing director since 1952.
In 2001, Elektra and associated companies came together under one umbrella company, Grupo Salinas. Ricardo Salinas Pliego’s net worth is currently $11.4 billion, ranking him 106th in Forbes’ 2020 Billionaires List.
Elektra had started out as a furniture store in 1906 in Monterrey, called Salinas y Rocha, and which diversified with the launch of Grupo Elektra in 1950, a manufacturer of radios and TV sets, based on a business model of offering consumers the option to buy on credit, or hire purchase, a model the company continues today, making the brand an attractive option for low-income families, and which now include articles such as Italika motorcycles, a brand launched by Salinas Pliego in 2005, also aimed at the lower income consumer bracket, and which manufactures bikes in Mexico and exports to Central America, Brazil and Peru. Elektra stores also sell household appliances.
In 1993, together with a group of investors, Salinas Pliego acquired the license for a group of TV and radio stations from the Mexican government for $643 million, with which they created TV Azteca, now Mexico’s second-largest open TV station after Televisa. In 1996, the station’s Azteca Digital arm produced and aired its first soap opera, ‘Nada personal,’ and which would prove a huge hit among viewers. To date the TV station has produced more than 60 soap operas. In 1997 Grupo Salinas launched Fundación Azteca, a philanthropic organization dedicated to furthering education, and combating drug addiction, and for which and it received a United Nations medal, and funded the establishment of a technical high school for underprivileged adolescents.
“Ricardo Salinas is a high-profile figure who is often in the news, as much for his controversial comments as for his business interests”
In 2017 the foundation built 400 houses for families affected by the earthquake of that year. In 2002 the group launched Banco Azteca, initially with branches within Elektra and Salinas y Rocha stores, but which soon began to open stand-alone, high-street branches across the country. The following year, the bank launched a retirement savings platform, Afore Azteca, and in 2004, Seguros Azteca, an insurance company. In 2008, Banco Azteca began its international expansion, opening branches in Brazil and Peru, and which was awarded by the World Bank in 2014 for its positive impact on the economies of low-income families. In 2011, Grupo Salinas launched Total Play, a pay-to-view, fiber-optic digital TV station and Internet service provider.
Ricardo Salinas is a high-profile figure who is often in the news, as much for his controversial comments as for his business interests. In November 2020, Salinas made headlines when he announced he would give away one million pesos (about $47,500), distributed as 100 prizes of 10,000 pesos each in a raffle in which the general public can participate by downloading the Banco Azteca app into their phones.
The announcement came at the same time as Mexico’s tax authority announced that Grupo Salinas owes 18.4 billion pesos (around $875 million) in fines for acts of tax fraud committed between 2008-12. The company has the option to appeal the fine at the Supreme Court, however.
Salinas had previously avoided tax fines after a number of wealthy entrepreneurs were declared exempt from tax payments during the period 2006-18, but the current government, which took office in 2018, has proved less sympathetic to the entrepreneur.