Jeff Zucker will oversee $1 Billion Sports Fund at RedBird IMI

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A little more than ten months later stepping down as the head of CNN, Jeff Zucker is back in the media business, and he’s got $1 billion of capital to invest.

RedBird IMI was a joint venture that Zucker founded and was named CEO on Tuesday. Gerry Cardinale’s RedBird Capital Partners International Media Investments (IMI), an Abu Dhabi holding company. Zucker will now be responsible for investing, buying, and building sports, media, and entertainment entities worldwide.

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Zucker was most recently the CEO of CNN, a position he held for ten years. He also led the Turner Sports unit between 2019 and February 2019. Zucker spent 25 years at NBCUniversal before he joined Turner. This included a four year stint as CEO.

In 2011, shortly after Comcast purchased a $13.8billion majority stake in NBCU, Zucker quit NBCU. Two years later, Comcast’s takeover was completed. Zucker joined CNN.

In a statement released this morning, Zucker indicated that his 35 years in the business has given him an “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.”

RedBird has also added Zucker as an operating partnership.

RedBird’s various sports-related ventures include a minority stake in Fenway Sports Group, which owns the MLB’s Boston Red Sox and the Premier League’s Liverpool Football Club, and an interest in LeBron James’ SpringHill Co.

“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,” Gerry Cardinale, RedBird Founder and Managing Partner, said in a statement. “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.”

Cardinale went on to note that Zucker’s “substantial operating expertise” should jibe nicely with RedBird and IMI’s “sophisticated financial and investing acumen.” RedBird currently manages over $7.5 billion in assets.

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