Mexico's Slim Defends $13 Billion Airport Attacked by Candidate

(Bloomberg) -- Mexico’s richest man is rushing to the defense of a $13 billion airport project that’s under fire from the front-runner in the nation’s presidential campaign.

Mexico's Slim Defends $13 Billion Airport Attacked by Candidate

The new hub for Mexico City will set off an economic boom for the capital, said Carlos Slim, whose construction company has won airport building contracts and whose son-in-law helped design the terminal with renowned British architect Norman Foster. Slim called on candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to reconsider his opposition.

“Suspending the project means suspending the country’s growth,’’ Slim told reporters in Mexico City.

With his support for the airport, Slim is jumping into the middle of a hot-button campaign issue. Lopez Obrador, warning of corruption in the massive building project, has pledged to cancel construction in favor of adding two runways for commercial aviation at a nearby military base. He has a lead of 15 percentage points over his nearest rival in the July 1 election.

The companies involved in the construction haven’t detected corruption in the project, said Slim, the world’s fifth richest man, with an estimated net worth of $68.6 billion. His bank, Grupo Financiero Inbursa SAB, helped raise money for the project in a recent $1.6 billion offering of so-called Fibra E securities.

The airport project has been spearheaded by President Enrique Pena Nieto, who is barred by law from running for re-election. The candidate representing Pena Nieto’s party is running third in polls.

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