Divorce looms for Rupert Murdoch


On June 15 2013 Rupert Murdoch, CEO of News Corp, filed for divorce from his wife, Wendi Deng. They have been married since 1999, and have two children together.

The ‘irretrievable breakdown of the marriage’ has been cited – implying a ‘no-fault’ divorce. This is most likely, as it is the simplest way to effect a divorce, although details have yet to be released.

Phone hacking

Rupert Murdoch is arguably best-known in the UK because of the phone-hacking scandal which broke in 2011. The News of the World, which is now defunct, and other papers owned by News International (a subsidiary of News Corp), were found to have been hacking into the mobile phones of various politicians, celebrities and members of the public and using the information for stories.

Wendi Deng shot to prominence during the Parliamentary hearing into the scandal, when she tried to hit a protester who threw a custard pie at Rupert Murdoch.

The settlement

This is obviously an extremely high-profile divorce – News Corp is worth several billion dollars. With two children a large settlement is expected, and the children are also current beneficiaries of 8.7 million non-voting shares held in a trust. Wendi Deng also has non-voting shares.

His children from previous marriages do have voting shares in the trust which holds Rupert Murdoch’s 40% of voting shares.

There are many other details that will need to be looked at. The division of residential properties, for example, and any other assets that the family have. The commercial side of Murdoch’s life makes things very interesting, as often commercial entities are used to protect one’s assets. Lawyers will need to sift through all the facts to ensure that no assets are being hidden by either party.

In another recent case, the Supreme Court in the UK forced an oil tycoon to hand over property to his ex-wife – he had previously transferred the ownership of these properties into the name of his company to be held in trust.

These situations make divorce law very complicated – and interesting – and it is imperative to ensure everything is managed correctly and with prudence. Have a look at our divorce law information if you would like to know more about the legal aspects of divorce.

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