News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch is close to reaching a divorce settlement with Wendi Deng Murdoch after 14 years of marriage, a person familiar with the matter said.
Murdoch, who also serves as chief executive officer of Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. (FOXA:US), filed for divorce from Wendi, his third wife, in June, and the two are scheduled to appear in court today. The couple have a prenuptial agreement and the settlement talks have been fairly amicable, according to the person, who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly.
Wendi Murdoch will keep the couple’s Fifth Avenue residence as part of the settlement, for the sake of stability for their children, according to the person. They have two daughters, Grace and Chloe, who live in New York.
Steven Rubenstein, a spokesman for Murdoch, declined to comment on the settlement talks. Wendi Murdoch didn’t respond to e-mailed requests for comment.
When Murdoch filed for divorce in June in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan, he said the relationship had “broken down irretrievably.” His attorney, Ira E. Garr with Garr Silpe PC, and William D. Zabel of Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP, who is representing Wendi Murdoch, didn’t immediately return phone messages seeking comment. Today’s hearing will be held before Justice Ellen Gesmer, according to a court clerk.
Wendi Murdoch, 37 years younger than her husband, made headlines in 2011 for physically defending him when he gave testimony at a Parliament hearing over a hacking scandal at his U.K. newspapers. She leapt up and lunged at a man who had tried to throw a pie in Murdoch’s face.
The two were married in 1999, weeks after Rupert’s divorce from his previous wife. His first marriage, to Patricia Booker, ended in 1965. Two years later, he married a reporter at one of his newspapers, Anna Torv, and had three children, Elisabeth, Lachlan and James, all of whom have figured prominently at one point in the workings of his company.
Murdoch’s net worth is $12.5 billion, making him the world’s 89th-richest person, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Most of Murdoch’s wealth comes from his family’s trust in which all his children, including Grace and Chloe, have an economic stake. The older children also have a voting stake, though the younger ones do not.
Wendi, 44, met Rupert when she was a junior executive at his Star TV division in Hong Kong. She had attended California State University at Northridge and graduated from Yale University’s graduate business program before joining News Corp.
Her interest in film led her to produce “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan,” which was distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures in 2011. She is also a trustee of the American Film Institute and an investor in Artsy, a digital-arts startup, according to the company’s website.
The divorce follows the split of News Corp. into two separate units: Twenty-First Century Fox, the media and entertainment division, and News Corp., the publishing division.
Shares of News Corp. rose 0.4 percent to $17.55 at 9:31 a.m. in New York, while Fox climbed 0.3 percent to $33.35.
The New York Times previously reported that the settlement was imminent.
The case is Murdoch v. Murdoch, 307226/2013, New York State Supreme Court, New York County (Manhattan.)
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