Murdoch divorce from Wendi Deng nearly final
Rupert Murdoch’s divorce from his wife of 14 years, Wendi Deng Murdoch, is nearly final and the sides are close to amicably resolving the matter, a person familiar with the situation said on Tuesday.
The pair will appear in a New York court on Wednesday to formalise the agreement, said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the matter is personal.
The divorce won’t alter the succession plan for the pair of media companies - 21st Century Fox and the recently spun-off publishing company, News Corp - that 82-year-old Rupert Murdoch controls through a family trust.
That trust benefits his elder children by previous marriages - Prudence, Elisabeth, Lachlan and James. All of them except Prudence have an active role in the companies and upon Rupert Murdoch’s death, each will have an equal say in what happens to the roughly 38 per cent voting stock the trust holds in both companies.
Forbes pegged Rupert Murdoch and his family’s wealth at US$13.4 billion (HK$104 billion) in September.
Meanwhile, Wendi Deng Murdoch, 44, is not a shareholder, according to the person. Their two school-age children, Grace and Chloe, are beneficiaries of 8.7 million non-voting shares held in a separate trust.
The divorce settlement is largely based on two prenuptial agreements and two “postnuptial” agreements that modified the original agreements, the person said. It is not likely to reach the monetary value of Rupert Murdoch’s previous divorce settlement with his second wife, Anna Torv, the person said.
That settlement reportedly cost Rupert Murdoch US$1.7 billion.
He shares residences in New York, London, Beijing and elsewhere with Wendi Deng Murdoch that are the subject of negotiations.
Rupert Murdoch’s lawyer, Ira Garr, and his wife’s lawyer, William Zabel, didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
The New York Times first reported the possible settlement.
Born in China, Wendi Deng Murdoch is a Yale graduate who worked as a junior executive at News Corp.’s subsidiary Star TV in Hong Kong, where she met her now-husband at a 1997 cocktail party. She left Star TV before marrying the Australian-born media mogul in June 1999 aboard Murdoch’s private yacht, in New She produced the 2011 movie Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, released by News Corp’s Fox Searchlight.
Wendi Deng Murdoch literally leapt into the spotlight when she jumped up to smack a protester who was throwing a cream pie at her husband during a July 2011 British parliamentary hearing into phone hacking by News Corp newspapers.
This year, News Corp, the newspaper and publishing company, separated from its more profitable entertainment arm, 21st Century Fox. Both are publicly traded and based in New York.