Rupert Murdoch files for divorce from Wendi Deng

Spokesman said the marriage had been irretrievably broken for more than six months

 Rupert Murdoch has filed for divorce from his wife Wendi Deng (left). Photograph: Getty

Rupert Murdoch has filed for divorce from his wife Wendi Deng (left). Photograph: Getty

Fri, Jun 14, 2013, 01:00

News Corporation chief executive Rupert Murdoch has filed for divorce from his wife Wendi, just days before News Corp itself splits into two.

A spokesman for Mr Murdoch said the marriage had been irretrievably broken for more than six months. Mr Murdoch (82) married the former Wendi Deng (44) in 1999.

News Corp is to be split into two companies, one for its entertainment assets and the other for its publishing business.

Mr Murdoch, whom Forbes says is worth $9.4 billion, is to be chairman of both firms. Analysts said the end of the Murdochs’ marriage was unlikely to have an effect on the corporate split.

“Given that it’s his third wife, I see it unlikely that he didn’t plan for this contingency,” Gabelli & Co analyst Brett Harriss said.

A person familiar with the situation said Mr Murdoch and Ms Deng had a prenuptial agreement, though it was not clear which one would move out of the couple’s Upper East Side apartment in New York.

The couple have two young daughters, Grace and Chloe. Murdoch has four grown children. News Corp shares were unchanged in midday trading.

A few years ago, news reports said Ms Deng had battled Mr 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.

The two youngest girls do not have voting rights in the trust, though they have an ownership stake.

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

She got 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.

They married in 1999 after he divorced his wife of 31 years.

Ms Deng is well known for having leapt to her feet to slap a prankster who tried in vain to smash a shaving cream pie into her husband’s face while he was testifying about the phone-hacking scandal in the British parliament in 2011.