Herbert Smith suffers another high-level departure as China M&A head quits

Herbert Smith Shanghai partner Simon Meng has resigned, leaving the firm’s Shanghai office with only two partners.

The news comes after Moscow-based Europe litigation headDmitry Kurochkin last week defected to Dechert in Moscow (21 June 2012).

Meng has been practising with Herbert Smith since 2000, when he joined from Sidley Austin’s Hong Kong office (17 April 2000). He relocated to Shanghai in 2003 when the firm opened in the city to focus on China-related project finance, project development and M&A.

Meng, qualified in New York and Paris, has been working in China and Hong Kong since 1994 handling mainly China projects and inbound investment.

Meng’s next career move is yet to be announced. His resignation comes amidst Herbert Smith’s merger discussions with Australia’s Freehills, with full financial integration between the two firms expected to be voted through this week (21 June 2012).

Under the merger deal, it is understood that Herbert Smith is likely to opt for a modified lockstep and Freehills partners will be committed to global mobility, including putting more resources into China.

In Greater China a number of corporate and capital markets partners have left Herbert Smith since 2011, including Carolyn Sng, who has joined Fried Frank, Melody Chen and John Moore, who are both now with Morrison & Foerster, and former head of Asia Ashley Alder, who joined the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission as its chief executive officer.

Last year, Herbert Smith launched Project Blue Sky in a bid to increase profitability and take a tougher stance on underperforming partners. Earlier today, the firm announced a 3 per cent increase in turnover and a 7 per cent drop in average profit per equity partner (PEP) for the 2011-12 financial year (25 June 2012).