Reuters has announced that News Corp. Executive, Rupert Murdoch, has filed for divorce from his wife Wendi. The company has confirmed the announcement just days before News Corp. splits into two.
The reasons that Murdoch flied the claim for divorce is not clear at this point. A spokesman for Murdoch said that the marriage had been irretrievably broken for more than six months. The 82 year-old Murdoch, married the 44 year-old Wendi Deng in 1999.
The announcement of the divorce comes just days before the split of News Corp. into two companies. The company will divide into two with one half for its entertainment assets and the other for its publishing business.
Murdoch is, according to Forbes, worth $9.4 billion and he will be chairman to both companies.
Analysts have said the Murdoch’s divorce was not likely to have an effect on the corporate split. Gabelli & Co. analyst Brett Harriss said, “I doubt it has a substantial impact on the spin. Given that it’s his third wife, I see it unlikely that he didn’t plan for this contingency.”
While common sense dictates that there was probably a prenuptial agreement in place, a person familiar with the billionaire’s situation said that Murdoch and Deng did indeed have a prenuptial agreement. The source did not know which one would be moving out of the couple’s Upper East Side apartment in New York City.
Murdoch and Deng have two young daughters, Grace and Chloe. Murdoch himself have four grown children from previous marriages. Prudence and Lachlan from his first marriage and Lachlan and James and Elisabeth from his second.
Despite the news of Rupert Murdoch filing for divorce from his wife, the shares in News Corp. were unchanged in midday trading.
Ira Garr who is an attorney listed as representing Murdoch has not returned calls seeking clarification on the circumstances of Murdoch’s filing for divorce.
According to news reports a few years ago, Wendi Deng had battled Rupert Murdoch’s adult children, from prior marriages, to secure a voting position for her children in the family trust, which holds the Murdoch stake in News Corp., worth billions of dollars. Currently, the two youngest girls do not have voting rights in the trust, though they do have an ownership stake.
Wendi Deng is the daughter of a factory director in Guangzhou, China. She came to the United States in 1988 after having served as an interpreter for a Los Angeles couple living and working in China. She went on to get an MBA from Yale and was then hired for a job at News Corp.’s Star TV as an intern in 1996. She met Murdoch in 1998 when she was a junior executive who acted as his interpreter while the billionaire was on a business trip to China.
The pair married in 1999 after Murdoch divorced his wife of 31 years.
Wendi Deng is known to most people outside of the media industry for an incident on July 2011 in the British House of Parliament where Rupert Murdoch was testifying on a phone-hacking scandal. A little more than halfway through the hearing, Deng suddenly leapt from her seat to shield Murdoch from a protestor who had slipped through security and a packed committee room to try and smash a shaving cream pie into Murdoch’s face.
Deng interceded on Murdoch’s behalf and intercepted shaving cream pie bearing man by executing a furious slap.
Speculation about why Rupert Murdoch has filed for divorce from Wendi Deng will continue until a formal statement from Murdoch or his spokesperson is forthcoming.
By Michael Smith