'Jaw-dropping' reason for Murdoch split

Last updated 12:10 14/06/2013
Reuters

News Corp boss Rupert Murdoch files for divorce from his wife Wendi. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.

Rupert Murdoch attacked at hearing

Rupert Murdoch
Reuters
IT'S OVER: Rupert Murdoch has filed for divorce from his wife of 14 years, Wendy Deng.

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Rupert Murdoch's reasons for divorcing his third wife, Wendi Deng, are "jaw-dropping" and the scandalous details could come out as soon as tomorrow, according to experts on the media mogul's life and business affairs.

BBC financial correspondent Robert Peston, who is close friends with many of Murdoch's key lieutenants, including News Corp CEO Robert Thomson, tweeted: "Am also told that undisclosed reasons for Murdoch divorcing Deng are jaw-dropping - & hate myself for wanting to know what they are."

Murdoch's biographer, Michael Wolff, added on his Twitter account: "I'm hearing the WHY, the big reveal, the scandal details, could come tomorrow."

He added ominously: "Rumor about the big B is everywhere except in print", although this may not have anything to do with Murdoch's divorce.

The shock news that Murdoch and his wife of 14 years have split gives credence to reports that both he and Deng had been living separate lives for some time now.

And it comes at a risky time for Murdoch, who is set to split News Corp into two separate businesses at the end of the month.

Murdoch, 82, filed for divorce in the New York Supreme Court, stating the "relationship between husband and wife has broken down irretrievably".

The couple are believed to have filed for joint custody of their children,  11-year-old Grace, and nine-year-old Chloe, but there are no details of any settlement.

Murdoch married Deng, 44, in 1999, soon after he split from his second wife, Anna Torv. Torv and Murdoch had been married for 31 years and the divorce was a bitter one, with the settlement reported to be one of the most expensive in history.

His first marriage, to Patricia Booker, ended in 1967.

Murdoch met Deng at a party when she was an intern at the company's Star TV in Hong Kong. Their marriage was at first viewed as a joke, with Deng framed as a gold-digger and Murdoch the flattered old man.

However, those who know the couple have described the them as very close, with Deng proving to be a positive influence on her older husband's life and mediator between him and his children with Torv.

Deng was fiercely protective of Murdoch as well. In 2011, when she was sitting behind Murdoch as he testified before a British parliamentary committee following the UK phone hacking scandal, she showed her husband's critics that she had mean right hook.

As assailant Jonathan May-Bowles approached with a pie aimed at her husband, Deng, a former volleyball player, jumped to her feet and launched her right hand at May-Bowles.

Wolff described Deng as the "most significant figure in the closing chapters of Rupert's life". "She has had an enormous impact on his life," he told the Guardian.

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Deng was expected to take a leading role in News Corp but last year she intimated to the New York Times that she and Murdoch were living independent lives.

According to alleged details of the couple's pre-nup, their children will not have the same voting rights as Elisabeth, Lachlan and James, his children by Torv.

Murdoch has built a $US60 billion (NZ$74.74bn) global media empire, and, ironically, earlier this week the company's shareholders voted to split the business into two publicly traded companies.

21st Century Fox will hold the TV and movie interests, while News Corp will hold the newspaper and publishing assets.

A News Corp spokesperson said the divorce would have no impact on the company.

- With AP

- Stuff

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