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Rupert Murdoch, the billionaire chairman of US-based media group News Corporation and a former owner of the South China Morning Post, has filed for divorce from his third wife, Wendi Deng Murdoch, 16 years after they famously met in Hong Kong.
A News Corp spokesman confirmed last night that Murdoch, 82, had initiated the divorce proceedings, but gave no further details.
The Murdochs, who have two daughters, were married in 1999, weeks after Murdoch's divorce from his previous wife, the Australian novelist Anna Torv.
This will be Murdoch's third divorce.
His first marriage, to Patricia Booker, ended in 1965. Two years later, he married Torv, a reporter at one of his newspapers, and had three children, Elisabeth, Lachlan and James, all of whom have figured prominently at one point in the workings of his company.
Murdoch and mainland-born Deng, 44, were married on board his yacht in New York Harbour in June 1999, two years after they met in Hong Kong. Eighty-two guests attended the private ceremony aboard Morning Glory, which left from Chelsea Piers as a string ensemble played Mozart.
Early signs are that the divorce will not impact Murdoch's media holdings, according to the news website Deadline Hollywood.
The website said the announcement of the divorce followed numerous denials for months.
Murdoch's net worth is US$12.1 billion, making him the world's 79th richest person, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
News Corp said last night Murdoch's relationship with his wife had been irretrievably broken for more than six months.
When she met the then 67-year-old Murdoch, Deng was a vice-president at Hong Kong-based Star TV.
She resigned from Star before their marriage. Previously, the Australian tycoon's media assets in Hong Kong included the South China Morning Post, which he sold in October 1993.
In 2011, Deng shot to global prominence when she attacked Jonathan May-Bowles, after he threw a pie at her husband during his testimony before a British parliamentary committee in connection with the News International phone-hacking scandal.
The incident earned her the accolade "tiger wife".
FACTBOX: The most expensive divorces ever:
In what could be a record-breaking divorce settlement, Continental Resources CEO Harold Hamm is in the middle of a contentious separation. It’s unclear whether Hamm signed a prenuptial agreement with his second wife and former Continental executive Sue Ann Hamm. Without one, legal analysts told Reuters that courts could divide Harold Hamm’s controlling 68 percent stake in Continental, currently worth US$11.2 billion.
When Jocelyn Wildenstein, a New York socialite known for her cosmetic surgery, divorced art dealer Alec Wildenstein in 1999, she received a US$2.5 billion settlement, plus an annual US$100 million for the next 13 years, according to reports from American and British tabloids.
Murdoch divorced his second wife of 31 years, Anna, with a US$1.7 billion settlement in 1999. He married Wendi shortly after.
Berlusconi, the former Italian prime minister, agreed to pay his estranged wife Veronica Lario 36 million euros as part of a divorce settlement reached late last year. Lario, a former actress who was married to Berlusconi for more than 22 years, asked for a divorce from the billionaire in 2009, accusing him of having an affair with a 17-year-old girl.
Ecclestone, Formula One chief executive, settled with ex-wife Slavica with a reported US$1.2 billion in 2009, according to Forbes.
In 1974, Saudi businessman Adnan Khasoggi divorced his wife Soraya in a US$874 million settlement, according to the Daily Telegraph.
Wynn, chief executive of casino empire Wynn Resorts, lost ownership of about half of his stock in the company in his 2010 divorce with Elaine Wynn in a US$750 million agreement, according to reports at the time.
McCaw, chairman of the board of Pendrell Corp. and founder of McCaw Cellular, which was sold to AT&T in 1994, divorced Wendy McCaw in a public battle that ended in a reported US$460 million settlement, according to Forbes.
Sources: Reuters, Forbes, NY Post, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, Bloomberg Businessweek