Jeff Zucker Lands Sweet Post-CNN Gig, Gets $1B to Acquire Media Outlets

Redbird Capital Partners, an investment firm focused on media and sports, is giving the former WarnerMedia boss another chance to throw his weight around

Less than a year after WarnerMedia News and Sports Chairman Jeff Zucker resigned from his position for failing to reveal an office romance, that company’s longtime top boss has been named CEO of Redbird IMI, a new joint venture between investment firm Redbird Capital Partners and Abu Dhabi-based private fund International Media Investments.

This is no boring, corporate soft landing for Zucker. As Variety reports, the one-time NBCUniversal CEO will have a hot $1 billion in initial investment capital to acquire and infuse cash into “large-scale media, entertainment, and sports content properties.” And he’s up for making some deals.

“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 capital 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’s hiring as the new company’s top brass broadcasts across the industry that Redbird is truly for the media’s top players. Notably, former Disney CEO Bob Iger was in “advanced” talks for a “major” role at RedBird Capital Partners when Disney began to seduce him back to give the Mouse House for another two years.

Redbird Capital has, in recent months, rained money on Hollywood companies, including LeBron James’ Springhill Co., the Fenway Sports Group, and David Ellison’s Skydance. The new company also burrowed deep into Hollywood in July, grabbing a majority stake in the casting software and audition network Talent Systems.

And earlier this month, Redbird Capital telegraphed which kind of smaller projects spark its fancy when it helped Matt Damon and Ben Affleck created their own studio, Artist Equity, with a healthy investment. Affleck told Variety he hopes to make movies in a way that is kinder to the creative process because a film “is a thing that requires attention and dedication and work and it resists the sort of assembly line process,” clearly referring to the get-em-out-there style of filmmaking seen at Netflix.

With his new perch and unfettered access to all that investment money, Zucker seems to still yearn to become the most powerful man in media.

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