Jeff Zucker, the former president of CNN, has joined US private equity group RedBird to launch a $1bn sports, media and entertainment fund with International Media Investments.
The move to RedBird marks a comeback for Zucker 11 months after being forced to quit his job at the US cable news network because of his failure to report a romantic relationship with a subordinate.
“I’ve spent 35 years running media businesses . . . That experience has given me unparalleled perspective for this unique time in media,” said Zucker.
RedBird, founded about eight years ago by former Goldman Sachs banker Gerry Cardinale, has a record of partnering with athletes, entertainers and well-known media executives to invest across sectors.
The New York-based buyout group, which manages about $7bn, recently acquired AC Milan from Elliott Management for $1.2bn.
Cardinale’s firm has also invested in a company controlled by NBA basketball star LeBron James, acquired an NFL rival league XFL with film star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and holds stakes in the company that owns the Red Sox baseball team and Liverpool Football Club.
“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,” said Cardinale.
Zucker became one of the pre-eminent figures in the US’s television world during his three-decade career that began as a producer and then chief executive of NBCUniversal.
He joined CNN in 2013 and made a lasting impression on the news network with a hands-on management style, which was credited with lifting the network’s ratings as it entered the Trump era.
During his time at WarnerMedia, Zucker was also responsible for Turner Sports, including overseeing negotiations for Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association. Zucker began his career at NBC as a researcher for NBC Sports during its coverage of the Seoul Olympic Games in 1988.
He resigned this year after he failed to disclose a romantic relationship with Allison Gollust, CNN’s executive vice-president and chief marketing officer.