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Rupert Murdoch and Wendi Deng agree to divorce settlement

Rupert Murdoch, the chairman of News Corp and 21st Century Fox, departs New York State Supreme Court with his lawyers after a hearing in New
Rupert Murdoch, the chairman of News Corp and 21st Century Fox, departs New York State Supreme Court with his lawyers after a hearing in New

By Jennifer Saba

(Reuters) - Rupert Murdoch and his wife, Wendi Deng Murdoch, appeared before a Manhattan judge on Wednesday in a 10-minute hearing that cleared the way for ending their 14-year marriage.

"I'm glad you were able to resolve these matters amicably," New York State Judge Ellen Gesmer said to the media mogul and his wife after asking if they were satisfied with settlement.

After the session, Deng, dressed in a dark-green coat and navy skirt, crossed the courtroom to hug her soon-to-be ex-husband, the chairman of News Corp and 21st Century Fox.

Key details of the agreement were not revealed, but a person familiar with the terms of settlement said Deng is expected to keep the couple's home in Beijing and their Fifth Avenue apartment in Manhattan, purchased in 2004 for a then-record $44 million.

William Zabel, an attorney for Deng, and Ira Garr, representing Murdoch, were seated next to their clients.

Murdoch, 82, filed for divorce from Deng, 44, in June citing that their marriage had been irretrievably broken, according to his spokesman at the time. He made the move weeks before he was set to split his media and entertainment empire into two separate companies.

Deng met Murdoch in 1998 when she was a junior executive at News Corp's Star TV in China and served as his interpreter during a business trip.

While the divorce is not yet final, the procedural hearing was one of the key steps necessary for the couple to part ways.

The split is not expected to affect operations at Fox and News Corp, which is controlled by the Murdoch family trust that holds about 40 percent of the voting stock in both companies.

Murdoch's two children with Deng - Grace, 12, and Chloe, 10 - have shares in the trust but no voting rights.

Murdoch also has four adult children - Prudence, Lachlan, James and Elizabeth, who hold voting rights in the trust.

Murdoch and Deng wed shortly after his 31-year marriage to second wife, Anna, ended in divorce.

Deng never had a formal role at News Corp, although during their more than decade-long marriage, she served as a close advisor to Murdoch especially relating to the company's business in China.

To many, she is perhaps best known for intercepting a shaving cream pie that was pitched at Murdoch while he was testifying before the British Parliament over News Corp's phone-hacking scandal in July 2011.

The incident gained her the nickname "tiger wife."

(Reporting by Jennifer Saba in New York; editing by Gunna Dickson)

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