Rupert Murdoch

Rupert Murdoch, Wendi Deng reach amicable divorce settlement

Mogul appears in New York court, telling the judge he has reached an amicable settlement with his third wife after 14 years of marriage

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 November, 2013, 9:18pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 November, 2013, 3:13am

Media baron Rupert Murdoch and his soon-to-be-ex-wife said they were parting with "mutual respect" yesterday after telling a judge they had reached a divorce deal.

The chairman of News Corp. and 21st Century Fox and his wife of 14 years, Wendi Deng Murdoch, shook hands and briefly hugged after a brief proceeding in a Manhattan court. The terms of the agreement weren't disclosed in court.

"We are pleased to announce we have reached an amicable settlement of all matters relating to our divorce," the two said in a statement. "We move forward with mutual respect and a shared interest in the health and happiness of our two daughters."

The divorce isn't technically final; it will happen after state Supreme Court Justice Ellen Gesmer signs some yet-to-be-submitted paperwork. She told the couple yesterday she was "glad that you have been able to resolve these matters amicably."

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 Rupert Murdoch, 82, 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's death, each will have an equal say in what happens to the 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 in September.

Meanwhile, Deng, 44, is not a shareholder. Their two young children, Grace and Chloe, are beneficiaries of 8.7 million non-voting shares held in a separate trust.

The divorce settlement is believed to be largely based on two prenuptial agreements and two "postnuptial" agreements that made modifications to the original agreements.

The deal is not likely to reach the monetary value of Rupert Murdoch's previous divorce settlement with his second wife, Anna Torv. That settlement reportedly cost Rupert Murdoch US$1.7 billion.

He shares residences in New York, London, Beijing and elsewhere with Deng that are the subject of negotiations. She is expected to keep the couple's Fifth Avenue residence as part of the settlement, for the sake of stability for their children, according to a person familiar with the deal.

When Murdoch filed for divorce in June, he said the relationship had "broken down irretrievably".

Born in Shandong, Deng 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 in 1997. She left Star TV before marrying the Australian-born media mogul in June 1999 aboard Murdoch's private yacht in New York. Murdoch's divorce from Anna Torv had been finalised less than a month.

Deng 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.

Additional reporting by Bloomberg