Munger, Tolles & Olson’s top entertainment and media corporate partner Kevin Masuda is heading over to Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher in Los Angeles.
Masuda, whose hire was announced Tuesday, was not immediately available to discuss his decision to leave Munger Tolles. He joined the Los Angeles-based Am Law 200 firm in 1996 from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and made partner five years later.
In an emailed statement, Munger Tolles co-managing partner Sandra Seville-Jones praised Masuda’s decades of service to the firm. “[Masuda] has been a great colleague and friend and we will always wish him the best,” she wrote.
Masuda’s practice spans a wide array of business transactions including corporate restructurings, equity financings, joint ventures and M&A deals in and around the entertainment, media and sports space. In 2014, Masuda and a Munges Tolles team represented Santa Monica-based headphone maker Beats Electronics LLC on its $3 billion sale to Apple Inc. (Masuda had previously advised Beats Electronics on a $500 million minority investment from private equity firm The Carlyle Group LP.)
In 2015, Masuda (pictured right) worked with Munger Tolles name partner Ronald Olson and real estate transactional partner Jeffrey Heintz in representing the National Football League’s San Diego Chargers on their relocation to Los Angeles, a move that will become official next month.
Masuda and Olson also counseled Glendale, California-based DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. last year on its $3.8 billion sale to NBCUniversal, a division of cable giant Comcast Corp. Masuda nabbed a lead role advising MGM Resorts International on its $900 million acquisition in 2016 of Boyd Gaming Corp.’s half-interest in the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
The departure of Masuda comes after Munger Tolles saw its finances slip for the second straight year in 2016. The firm’s gross revenue fell 10.2 percent, to $234.5 million, while profits per partner plummeted 14.7 percent, to $1.59 million. Munger Tolles did make a big move by opening its first office outside Los Angeles and San Francisco last year in Washington, D.C., as a result of its hire of former U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr.
But in July, corporate and securities partner Michael O’Sullivan left Munger Tolles to become general counsel at Snapchat parent Snap Inc., parent of popular messaging app Snapchat. O’Malley Miller, the former head of Munger Tolles’ real estate practice, left the firm in May to return to Allen Matkins Leck Gamble Mallory & Natsis, a Southern California firm where he started his career in 1977. Proskauer Rose reeled in two other former Munger Tolles partners in early 2016 and late last year Gibson Dunn hired Munger Tolles business litigation partner Kristin Linsley in Los Angeles.
“[Munger Tolles] has in the past year or so lost a few partners in California to other firms, which is a rare occurence,” said Larry Watanabe, a legal recruiter with Watanabe Nason in Los Angeles. “It is a great firm with many strong institutional clients but the geographical footprint is quite limited. That can be a detriment to those partners that have clients and requirements beyond that of California and a newly-minted D.C. office.”
Gibson Dunn, which saw its gross revenue and partner profits rise in 2016, has been in expansion mode in this year. In February, the firm announced plans for an office in Houston, which it subsequently bolstered with six partners from Baker Botts. Gibson Dunn has also sought to grow its platform in Europe, landing a Latham & Watkins partner in Frankfurt in May and bringing on a four-partner team from Ashurst in Paris the following month. Ken Doran, Gibson Dunn’s chairman and managing partner, praised his firm’s latest hire in a statement.
“[Masuda] combines a broad corporate practice and M&A practice with deep experience and connections in the entertainment industry,” Doran said. “Our media, entertainment and technology group is strategically important to our clients on the West Coast and globally, and [Masuda] is a strong addition to the group, who will give us added capacity to serve this important industry.”