Media mogul Rupert Murdoch finalises fourth divorce

He is the latest billionaire to face the prospect of an expensive divorce after Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos

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Australian billionaire media mogul Rupert Murdoch and his actress and model wife Jerry Hall have finalised their divorce, making him the latest in a series of billionaires to end their marriages.

Ms Hall, 66, filed a request in the Los Angeles Superior Court this week to dismiss her original petition for divorce, which she filed last month, with permission to file a new one.

She had cited “irreconcilable differences” as the reason for the split and sought unspecified spousal support and lawyers’ fees in her original divorce petition, according to media reports.

In the original petition, Ms Hall said she was “unaware of the full nature and extent of all [of Murdoch’s] assets and debts, and will amend this petition when the information has been ascertained”.

No details were released on the agreement the two have reached.

Mr Murdoch, who owns many of the world’s most famous newspapers, has an estimated net worth of $8.4 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, while Ms Hall’s fortune is worth $20 million, according to wealth tracking website Celebrity Net Worth.

The News Corp founder owns some of the most notable publishing outlets around the globe, including Fox News, The Wall Street Journal, The Daily Telegraph, The Times, Sky News Australia and British tabloid The Sun, among others.

Mr Murdoch is the latest billionaire to face the prospect of an expensive divorce, joining Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who ended his marriage with MacKenzie Scott in April 2019, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, who split from Melinda French last year, and Google co-founder Sergey Brin, who filed for divorce in June this year.

Mr Bezos, the world’s second-richest person with a fortune of $130bn, paid Ms Scott about $38bn to end their marriage of 26 years, making it one of the world’s most expensive divorces.

Under their agreement, he retained 75 per cent of Amazon’s shares while Ms Scott received a 4 per cent stake in the company.

Rupert Murdoch at the Abu Dhabi Media Summit

Rupert Murdoch at the Abu Dhabi Media Summit

It is not known exactly how much Mr Gates, currently the fifth-wealthiest person in the world with a fortune of $121bn, paid Ms French when their divorce was finalised last August.

However, in the same month, Mr Gates’s Cascade Investment transferred 3.3 million shares of AutoNation to Ms French, as well as 2.8 million shares of Deere & Co and 9.5 million shares of Canadian National Railway, totalling more than $1bn, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Mr Gates also transferred more than $3bn worth of shares in the same three companies in the days after their May 3 divorce announcement, Bloomberg reported.

At the time, the stocks alone were worth more than $5.7bn, but “it may only be part of the picture”, it said.

Ms French currently has a net worth of $11.1bn, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Ms Hall and Mr Murdoch married in London in 2016. It was the fourth marriage for Mr Murdoch. They have no children together.

Mr Murdoch marked the occasion by announcing on Twitter that he would stop posting on the platform, calling himself “the luckiest and happiest man in the world”.

A statement released by Mr Murdoch’s attorney, Robert Cohen, and Judy Poller, a lawyer representing Ms Hall, confirmed the couple had finalised their divorce but “remain good friends”.

The separation is unlikely to alter the ownership structure of businesses Mr Murdoch holds stakes in, which include the parent companies of Fox News and The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times reported in June.

The Murdoch family’s shares in the companies Mr Murdoch founded reside in a strictly managed trust. Mr Murdoch splits voting rights over that trust with his four oldest children — Lachlan, Elisabeth, James and Prudence — and has arranged them so that he can never be outvoted, The New York Times reported.

Ms Hall, born in Texas, was previously the long-time partner of Rolling Stones lead singer Mick Jagger. They have four children together.

Mr Murdoch’s first wife was Patricia Booker, an Australian flight attendant, whom he divorced in 1965.

He and his second wife, Anna, a newspaper reporter, were together for more than 30 years before divorcing in 1999. His third marriage to Wendi Deng, an entrepreneur and investor, ended in 2013.

Updated: August 12, 2022, 9:36 AM