Former CNN chief Jeff Zucker is moving on to his next chapter.
The veteran executive has been named chief executive and operating partner of RedBird IMI, an investment fund that will will focus on acquisitions and taking stakes in media, entertainment and sports properties, the company announced.
RedBird IMI is a joint venture backed by two private investment firms, New York-based RedBird Capital Partners and International Media Investments in Abu Dhabi. The new entity will launch with $1 billion in capital.
RedBird was founded in 2014 by Gerry Cardinale and currently manages more than $7.5 billion in assets on behalf of a global group of blue-chip institutional investors. RedBird’s holding include stakes in the Fenway Sports Group, which owns the Boston Red Sox and NESN, a regional sports network.
The firm has also invested in the YES Network, the TV outlet for the New York Yankees and the Brooklyn Nets, and SpringHill Company, an entertainment company founded by NBA superstar LeBron James and Maverick Carter.
International Media Investments is a private company that holds media investments overseas, including the National, Sky News Arabia, CNN Business Arabic and the Grid.
Zucker’s leadership in the joint venture will likely lead to speculation that RedBird IMI could make a bid for CNN if Warner Bros. Discovery decides to spin off the cable news network to help reduce the company’s massive debt.
Warner Bros. Discovery management has never suggested any intention to sell CNN, although the notion is whispered about informally inside the company.
CNN was turning an annual profit of more than $1 billion under Zucker’s leadership from 2013 through 2022. He was forced to resign earlier this year after he failed to disclosed he is in a romantic relationship with Allison Gollust, a longtime aide who also served as chief marketing officer for CNN.
Under Warner Bros. Discovery’s management, CNN has been in turmoil, facing cost-cutting and layoffs while searching for a down-the-middle identity at a time when cable news audiences have become partisan tribes. The network is also facing the long-term challenge of consumers cutting the pay-TV cord, a threat to subscribers fee revenue.
Zucker, 57, also served as president of Turner Sports from 2019 to 2022 — concurrent with his CNN leadership — and served as and chief executive of NBCUniversal from 2007 to 2011. His rise at NBC began in the early 1990s when he became the 26-year-old executive producer of the morning show “Today.”
This story originally appeared on LATimes