14 Jun 2013

Rupert Murdoch files for divorce

7:43 am on 14 June 2013

News Corp chief executive Rupert Murdoch has filed for divorce from his wife Wendi Deng.

A spokesperson for the 82-year-old media tycoon said the marriage had been irretrievably broken for more than six months.

The pair married aboard a private yacht in New York in 1999 after Mr Murdoch divorced his wife of 31 years.

Ms Deng, 44, is best known for intercepting a protester with a furious slap in defence of her husband as he was testified about a phone-hacking scandal before British MPs in July 2011.

More than halfway through the hearing, she suddenly leapt from her seat to protect Mr Murdoch from the prankster who had slipped through a packed committee room and tried in vain to smash a shaving cream pie into the media mogul's face.

Reuters reports the couple had a prenuptial agreement, citing a person familiar with the situation, though it was not clear which one would move out of the couple's Upper East Side apartment in New York City. They have two young daughters, Grace and Chloe.

The Australian-born media owner has four grown children, Prudence from his first marriage and Lachlan, James and Elisabeth from his second.

A few years ago, several news reports said that Ms Deng had battled Murdoch's adult children to secure a voting position for her children in the family trust, which holds the Murdoch stake in News Corp, worth billions of dollars.

As it now stands, the two youngest girls do not have voting rights in the trust, though they do have an ownership stake.

The filing comes just days before the split of News Corp into two companies - one for its entertainment assets and the other for its publishing business - both of which will be chaired by Mr Murdoch.

Ms Deng is the daughter of a factory director in Guangzhou, China, and came to the United States in 1988 after serving as an interpreter for a Los Angeles couple working in China.

She went on to get an MBA from Yale and landed a job at News Corp's Star TV as an intern in 1996. She met Mr Murdoch in 1998 when she was a junior executive who acted as his interpreter during a business trip to China.