Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer has hired veteran transactional attorney Chris Brearton as the studio’s chief operating officer.
Brearton, who joins the company at month’s end, will report to chairman and CEO Gary Barber and will work with him to oversee MGM’s business operations, and the company’s business development and strategic growth initiatives.
“I’ve worked very closely with Chris for more than a decade on a myriad of deals,” Barber said in a statement on Tuesday. “He has been my most trusted advisor during this period and I am thrilled he will be joining MGM. Chris’ knowledge and expertise have been invaluable to the company. He brings an unmatched understanding and vision about the future of MGM, which makes his addition to our talented senior executive team as COO even more exciting.”
Brearton has specialized in mergers and acquisitions, film and television financing, media rights licensing, and strategic joint ventures and partnerships. He comes to MGM from Latham & Watkins’ entertainment, sports & media practice, where he served as the managing partner of the firm’s Century City office.
Brearton has represented MGM for nearly 20 years, including all of MGM’s transformative activities over the last eight years. He led the team that advised Barber’s Spyglass Entertainment in its 2010 merger with MGM.
Brearton has also represented MGM in its other transformative deals since then, including MGM’s acquisition of Hearst, Mark Burnett’s and Roma Downey’s interests in United Artists Media Group — after which Burnett and Downey joined MGM’s senior management — MGM’s acquisition of pay-TV network Epix; the recent enhancement of MGM’s debt capital structure to $2.1 billion; and MGM’s joint venture with Annapurna Pictures, through which MGM will release its own films theatrically in the U.S.
MGM’s chief operating officer post was most recently occupied by Ken Schapiro, who came on board in 2011. He also became chief strategic officer before departing in 2014.
Before Latham & Watkins, Brearton was a partner at O’Melveny & Myers. He began his career at KPMG in Los Angeles.
“The opportunity to join MGM is the chance of a lifetime,” Brearton said. “MGM was my first client while I was at KPMG in 1992, so the company has always held a special place in my heart. The challenge to help this great company map out a plan to grow into the future is very exciting, and I can’t wait to get to work with Gary and the leadership team and staff at MGM on a daily basis.”
“As I begin this new chapter of my career, I must thank Joe Calabrese and my colleagues at Latham & Watkins for years of guidance and support,” he added. “They truly embody what it means for lawyers to act as trusted advisors to their clients.”
Brearton has been recognized on Variety’s list of “Hollywood’s Top Dealmakers.” Privately-held MGM reported in November a tenfold gain in third-quarter earnings to $114.2 million. Barber also revealed at that point that MGM had not yet selected a distribution partner for the 25th James Bond movie.