By Meg James
4:46 PM EST, November 26, 2012
Univision Communications' top lawyer, C. Douglas Kranwinkle, is retiring after 12 years with the Spanish-language media giant, leaving the company without a corporate presence in its marquee market of Los Angeles.
On Monday, the company said Kranwinkle will be succeeded by Jonathan Schwartz, who most recently served as general counsel of JPMorgan’s Investment Bank. Schwartz will be based in New York.
The move continues the consolidation of the media company's corporate functions on the East Coast. The company's headquarters are in New York, and its TV network operations and studios are located in Miami.
Los Angeles served as Univision's headquarters until 2007 when billionaire A. Jerrold Perenchio sold the company to a group of private investors, including another L.A. billionaire, Haim Saban.
The respected Kranwinkle, 72, was one of the few top Univision executives who remained with the company after the 2007 leveraged buyout by Saban and the four private equity firms. Kranwinkle, who lives in Pasadena with wife Susan, was allowed to remain in Los Angeles.
Another holdover from the previous ownership, Chief Financial Officer Andrew Hobson, relocated to New York a few years ago.
Kranwinkle was key to Univision's external relations, including smoothing the company's tumultuous relations with its Mexico City programming partner Grupo Televisa. He helped negotiate an end to the litigation between the two companies, and Televisa's eventual ownership stake in the media company.
Kranwinkle joined the Spanish-language media company in 2000 after being persuaded by Perenchio to postpone his retirement. Kranwinkle helped guide Univision through its period of explosive growth as it acquired radio and music properties and launched new TV networks. As general counsel, he also oversaw the legal aspects of the bidding war that erupted in 2006 for control of the company.
"He importantly helped bridge our transition from a publicly traded company to our current ownership structure," Univision Chief Executive Randy Falco said Monday in an email to employees. "It’s been a privilege to work with Doug, indisputably one of the leading attorneys in our industry."
Before joining Univision, Kranwinkle was a partner at O’Melveny & Myers from 1989 to September 2000. For five years, he was managing partner of O’Melveny & Myers, responsible for the firm's worldwide operations.
Before that, Kranwinkle was a partner of the Los Angeles-based Munger, Tolles & Olson from 1968 to 1988. After graduating from law school in 1965, Kranwinkle served as a law clerk for U.S. Chief Justice Earl Warren.
Kranwinkle, who will remain with Univision as a consultant, also is a board member of local public radio station KPCC.
Schwartz, 51, joins Univision on Dec. 1. For nearly three years, he has been with JPMorgan. Before that, he spent six years at Cablevision Systems as general counsel. Schwartz previously worked at Time Warner Inc. and the online music company Napster.
As part of the transition, Phyllis Verdugo, deputy general counsel and a 15-year Univision veteran, will relocate to New York.