(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions
expressed are his own)
By Christopher Swann
NEW YORK, June 14 (Reuters Breakingviews) - Rupert Murdoch
may get three divorces for price of one. As the News Corp
(NWSA.O) boss heads for a third breakup, there’s at least one
financial consolation: a smaller lifetime divorce bill than
fellow billionaire Harold Hamm. Minus a prenuptial agreement,
the oil baron may forfeit $3 billion to his ex. Even after a
$1.7 billion deal in 1999, media mogul Murdoch probably comes
The two tycoons are neighbors on the Forbes rich list. With
a net worth of $11.3 billion, Hamm ranks as the 90th wealthiest
man in the world just ahead of Murdoch's 91st place listing for
the $11.2 billion he had as of March this year. But despite
almost identical fortunes, they face very different price tags
for their latest marital splits.
Up to now, Murdoch holds the unenviable record for the
largest sum ever handed over in a public divorce settlement for
his 1999 deal. Murdoch's overall bill for failed relationships
will certainly grow considerably with his forthcoming rupture
from Wendi. Yet his third wife did sign a prenuptial agreement,
a person familiar with the situation told Reuters. That should
minimize the cost. His first divorce, in 1967, came before he
had accumulated his substantial fortune.
Harold Hamm looks to be facing a bill that will exceed all
three of Murdoch's romantic misadventures combined. For a start,
Hamm failed to take the precaution of a pre-nuptial bargain when
he married Sue Ann in 1988. To make matters worse, almost all of
his fortune has been accumulated since they tied the knot. In
1987, at the time of his first divorce, Hamm had a net worth of
just $16 million. Sue Ann, herself a lawyer, also gains extra
leverage by having worked as a top executive at her husband's
oil firm. That enables her to claim she played an important role
in building Hamm's empire.
Both billionaires are sure to occupy a lower ranking on the
Forbes list by the end of the year. But of the two, Hamm is in
danger of sliding far further for solely domestic reasons.
SIGN UP FOR BREAKINGVIEWS EMAIL ALERTS:
- News Corp Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch filed for divorce
from his wife Wendi on June 13.
- The media executive was last divorced in 1999, when he
settled with his ex-wife Anna for a record $1.7 billion.
- Reuters: New Corp's Rupert Murdoch files for divorce from
wife Wendi [ID:nL2N0EP146]
Not since Dallas [ID:nL1N0CE5EF]
- For previous columns by the author, Reuters customers can
click on [SWANN/]
(Editing by Rob Cox and David Evans)
Keywords: BREAKINGVIEWS MURDOCH/
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