As first reported by The Lawyer (25 September 2006), the firm decided to close its Singapore office to focus instead on China. The changes follow the shock departure last week of the firm's China head to Simpson Thacher & Bartlett.
Freshfields is parachuting into Hong Kong the two remaining partners from the Singapore office, Bruce Cooper and Yeelong Tan, both of whom are finance specialists.
At the same time the firm is also promoting into the partnership Hong Kong-based asset finance partner Paul Ng.
Freshfields' Singapore exit will result in the termination of its joint venture with Singapore firm Drew & Napier.
Hong Kong managing partner and finance head Clive Rough said: "We plan on further strengthening the practice in the near future." The firm has offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong.
It was only late last week that M&A partner and China head Douglas Markel left Freshfields to launch Simpson Thacher's Beijing office.
Freshfields has been overhauling several of its Asia practices recently, including relocating corporate partner James Wood from London to Tokyo to spearhead renewed M&A activity in Japan. Asia was one of the focuses of the firmwide restructuring undertaken in the past year.
Wood will be assisted by new corporate partner Edward Cole, who belatedly got made up to the partnership today, and is also transferring to Japan.