The News Corp chief filed to end his 14-year marriage to Wendi Deng, according to his spokesman.
“I’m absolutely gobsmacked,” Michael Wolff, Murdoch’s biographer, told The Daily Telegraph. “But Wendi once told me that this is his reaction when things go wrong in business or his personal life. He makes a decision and it’s over. He feels bad for a day and then forgets about it.”
Murdoch, 82, married Deng, 44, in 1999 in his third and her second marriage. They have two daughters.
The divorce filing, which was sealed, comes just days before News Corp is to split into two companies, one containing its entertainment assets and the other holding its publishing business. Murdoch, who Forbes says is worth $9.4 billion, is to be chairman of both publicly traded companies.
Despite the timing, there is no connection between the divorce and the corporate split, said a source close to News Corp.
Analysts said the end of the Murdochs’ marriage was unlikely to have an impact on the media empire. Murdoch and Deng had a prenuptial agreement. Their girls, Grace and Chloe, have stakes in the family trust that holds the Murdochs’ stake in News Corp, but they do not have voting rights.
“I doubt it has a substantial impact on the spin,” Gabelli & Co analyst Brett Harriss said. “Given that it’s his third wife, I see it unlikely that he didn’t plan for this contingency.”
Details of the prenuptial agreement are not known.
Deng met Murdoch in 1998, when she was a junior executive who acted as his interpreter during a business trip to China.