Petra Ecclestone and James Stunt agree £5.5bn divorce

Pair avoid lengthy legal battle

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Petra Ecclestone, the billionaire daughter for Formula 1 boss Bernie, has been granted a divorce after coming to a deal with husband James Stunt.

With a two-day hearing due to start yesterday at the Central Family Court, the pair announced that they had reached an agreement.

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They were believed to be clashing over their rumoured £5.5 billion fortune, including multi-million-pound homes in Los Angeles and London.

Details of the settlement haven't been released.

"It is announced, with regret, that James Stunt and Petra Ecclestone have agreed to divorce and that decree nisi, uncontested, was granted by HHJ Tolson this morning," reads a press statement issued on behalf of the couple.

"James is committed to remaining firm friends with Petra and is concerned that the misleading media coverage of their divorce has not accurately reflected the issues which were in dispute."

While 35-year-old Stunt isn't exactly a self-made man - he grew up in decidedly swish Virginia Water - since the age of 21, he has built up a fortune in the shipping sector, gold mining, private finance, property and gambling.

And he has expensive tastes, owning artworks by Monet and Picasso and more than 200 cars, including a £315,000 Lamborghini, as well as a wine collection worth millions of pounds.

He married Petra, now 28, in 2011 at Odescalchi Castle near Rome - also the venue for Tom Cruise's marriage to Katie Holmes. The wedding is said to have cost £12 million, with Petra wearing an £80,000 Vera Wang dress.

The couple have three children: four-year-old daughter Lavinia, and twin sons James Jr and Andrew, aged two.

The couple had signed a prenuptial agreement worth £16 million.

But until now the divorce has been a tricky process, with Petra claiming that her husband was violent and abusive. At an earlier hearing, a judge ordered Stunt to leave the couple's 14-bedroom home in Chelsea, and there have been strong words between him and Petra's father, Bernie.

Now that a settlement has been reached, the couple can apply for a decree absolute in six weeks' time. The judge praised the pair for avoiding a lengthy and expensive court battle.

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