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Jeff Zucker is getting back in the media business.
Less than a year after he was pushed out of WarnerMedia, the former CNN and NBCUniversal CEO has been named CEO of a new joint venture backed by Gerry Cardinale’s RedBird Capital and International Media Investments, an Abu Dhabi-based private investment fund.
RedBird and IMI are pouring an initial $1 billion into the new venture, called RedBird IMI, which will see Zucker acquiring and building companies in the sports, media and entertainment sectors. The executive is also joining RedBird as an operating partner.
IMI and RedBird say they are “focused on acquiring and investing in large scale media, entertainment and sports content properties on a global basis.”
Both companies are already heavily invested in the sector, with RedBird owning stakes in entertainment ventures like Skydance Media, LeBron James’ SpringHill and Ben Affleck and Matt Damon’s Artists Equity and sports ventures like Fenway Sports Group, which owns the Boston Red Sox and Liverpool F.C. IMI, meanwhile, owns a stake in Euronews and CNN Business Arabic (a joint venture with CNN) and owns The National, an Abu Dhabi-based English-language news outlet.
Zucker had been the head of CNN and Turner Sports until February, when he resigned after disclosing a personal relationship with a colleague, CNN marketing and communications chief Allison Gollust. He had joined CNN in 2013 and added oversight of Turner Sports a few years later.
He was previously the CEO of media giant NBC Universal, but left the company after Comcast acquired it in 2011. After exiting NBCU but before joining CNN, he created and worked as executive producer of Katie Couric’s syndicated talk show. He had previously worked as EP of NBC’s Today show during Couric’s tenure.
Zucker noted that experience in a statement tied to the new job.
“I’ve spent 35 years running media businesses at the intersection of news, sports and entertainment, creating new brands and resurrecting old ones,” Zucker said in a statement. “That experience has given me unparalleled perspective for this unique time in media, and the combination of the RedBird and IMI capital and strategic discipline, combined with my operational experience, will give this joint venture a unique advantage in the current media landscape.”
“We are very pleased to partner with IMI to create a long-term, fully capitalized investment vehicle that can own and operate content-focused businesses across the media spectrum in the US and globally,” added Cardinale. “The skill and experience of the combined team will allow us to identify assets that will benefit from the deployment of success-based capital to further scale or diversify, while also enabling the development of new companies competitively advantaged as market and consumer trends continue to evolve. With Jeff as our CEO, this platform will integrate substantial operating expertise with sophisticated financial and investing acumen to deploy transformational capital on a scaled basis.”
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