Former CNN CEO Jeff Zucker has launched a joint venture with private equity firm RedBird Capital Partners and Abu Dhabi-based International Media Investments to acquire and invest in “large scale media, entertainment and sports content properties” on a global scale.
The plan marks a comeback for Zucker in the media business after resigning from CNN after nine years.
In February, Zucker left CNN after admitting that he had failed to disclose a romantic relationship with CNN’s executive vice-president and chief marketing officer, Allison Gollust, as part of the network’s investigation into former star host Chris Cuomo.
Now, Zucker has launched RedBird IMI with an initial committed capital of $1 billion. The former media executive will serve as the joint venture’s chief executive officer. He also joins RedBird as an operating partner.
Zucker has over three decades of leadership experience in the news, sports, entertainment and digital innovation space. From 2012 to February, 2022, he was the CEO of CNN, and was President of Turner Sports from 2019 to 2022. He spent 25 years at NBC Universal including as CEO from 2007 to 2011. He co-founded online streaming service Hulu in 2007.
“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.”
“I’ve spent 35 years running media businesses at the intersection of news, sports and entertainment, creating new brands and resurrecting old ones. 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,” Zucker said in a press release.
Through RedBird IMI, Zucker will be on the hunt for investments in media, entertainment and sports content.
Founded in 2014 by Gerry Cardinale, RedBird Capital Partners provides strategic capital solutions to founders and entrepreneurs. It manages more than $7.5 billion in assets on behalf of blue chip institutional and family office investors.
The company says it integrates sophisticated private equity investing an focuses on two core ecosystems: media and entertainment, sports and experiential consumers, as well as financial services.
Speaking about the launch of the RedBird IMI joint venture, Cardinale, said: “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.”
“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.”
Gerry Cardinale, RedBird Capital Partners
“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.”
Nart Bouran, CEO of International Media Investments, says the joint venture “has come together at an important time as the media industry continues to evolve in both content creation and distribution to meet the evolving expectations of consumers globally.”
“Partnering with Jeff Zucker and Gerry Cardinale will enable us to bring tremendous operational, investing and financial expertise to make impactful and transformative investments across the media, entertainment and sports landscapes,” Bouran added.
IMI holds media investments in companies like The National, Sky News Arabia, CNN Business Arabic and The Grid.
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