Business as usual for Murdoch? Divorce ahead of News Corp split

All smiles back in 2011

All smiles back in 2011

The news headlines are very clear. Rupert Murdoch has filed for divorce from Wendi Deng, not the other way round.

Mr Murdoch, it seems, is doing the leaving. Ms Deng must find this an unfamiliar feeling. So far, she was always the one for whom husbands left their wives. Her first husband, Jake Cherry, left his wife for the 21-year-old Ms Deng. It must have been fairly devastating for Joyce Cherry because she and her then-husband were instrumental in taking the dirt-poor Chinese girl to the US and sponsoring her through university.

Then there was Ms Deng’s wedding to the twice-married Mr Murdoch. He divorced his wife of 30 years and married Ms Deng 17 days after the paperwork was complete.

Till now, Ms Deng has seemed like the irresistible femme fatale, perennially ‘the other woman’, the one who takes other people’s husbands and makes them hers. At least for some little time. One former employee, who may or may not have been disgruntled, has said that working for Ms Deng was like being in a “war zone” and she “curses Rupert all the time. A lot of f-words. She’s always yelling, crying”.

Whatever the reasons for the end of this 14-year marriage, some say the issue won’t preoccupy Mr Murdoch as much as another split – News Corp.’s planned division into two separate publicly traded companies, one for its entertainment businesses and the other for publishing. According to Michael Wolff, Mr Murdoch’s biographer, he has it on good authority (from Ms Deng herself) that the media tycoon’s typical reaction when things go wrong in business or his personal life is to “make a decision and it’s over. He feels bad for a day and then forget about it”.

On June 28, the corporation will complete the split into News Corp and 21st Century Fox. If his biographer is right, Mr Murdoch will spend a lot of time working that out and agonizing about decisions and divorcing his wife will be a mere bagatelle.