Former CNN Chief Jeff Zucker Pursues Entertainment, Media and Sports Companies

Jeff Zucker, who has run CNN for almost a decade, will manage $1 billion in capital from Abu Dhabi-backed International Media Investments, IMI and Gerry Cardinale’s RedBird Capital Partners to pursue attractive media and entertainment M&A opportunities.

The funding goes to a partnership called RedBird IMI and will likely follow assets similar to those in the Redbird portfolio, which has $7 billion in capital under management and deep ties to the entertainment industry, most recently backing Ben Affleck and Matt Damon in November. A tool called Artists Equity (AE).

AE is an artist-led studio that expands access to profit engagement, supports monetization of intellectual property through creator partnerships, and leverages a data-driven approach to content distribution. The first project stars Affleck as the director and Damon as the star of a film that tells the real-life story behind the Air Jordan Brand. It is produced in partnership with Amazon Studios, Skydance Sports, and Mandalay Pictures.

“Historically, the success of a movie depended on its box office performance. Now, with the rise of internet publishing, the business behind filmmaking has changed at its core. But I and I know that no matter which direction the industry evolves, the power will continue to be in the hands of the creators,” AE’ said. Matt Damon, Chief Content Officer.

Essentially, the venture was founded to put more of the profits from movies and TV shows into the hands of talent. Many in Hollywood have been annoyed by profit participation deals based on the traditional revenue model where most of the revenue comes from box office and DVD.

With streaming soaring and many content companies rapidly moving movies from the box office to their own streaming services, many high-profile actors, directors and producers claimed they were not getting their fair share of profits.

Another venture Redbird owns is Skydance Media, which was founded by David Ellison and produces hits at Apple such as Top Gun: Maverick and the Jack Ryan TV show.
Prime Video and Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning and Transformers: Rise of the Beast (both coming out next year).

Other investments include part of Fenway Sports Group (which owns the Boston Red Sox, Fenway Park and Liverpool Football Club) and LeBron James’ SpringHill.

“The Shop” on HBO, Warner Bros. SpringHill, which produced the movie “Space Jam: A New Legacy” and other content, is valued at $725 million after RedBird, Nike and (Fortnite maker) Epic Games bought shares. company last year

IMI was established in Abu Dhabi’s Media Region Authority and to date has focused on global digital media investments, although most of its investments are in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
). Assets in its portfolio include Al Roeya (an Arabic digital and print publication in the UAE), EuroNews, The National (also a UAE news service) and Sky News Arabia.

Former CEO of NBC Universal Zucker quits after Comcast
acquired the company in 2011. She later joined CNN in 2013 and resigned in 2022 after it was revealed she was unable to disclose her romantic relationship with one of her senior employees.

“As part of the investigation into Chris Cuomo’s tenure at CNN, I was asked if I had a consensual relationship with my closest colleague, someone I’ve worked with for more than 20 years,” Zucker said in a note to employees. “I have accepted that the relationship has improved in recent years. I was supposed to explain when it started but I didn’t. I was wrong. As a result, I am resigning today.”

During his tenure there, Zucker increased cash flow at CNN US by 163% to over $900 million. IMI has a long-standing relationship with CNN, which has a major media office in Abu Dhabi, and this paved the way for this deal to be made.

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