The newly created position of corporate chairman is a client-facing role that will see Cranfield act as an ambassador for the firm.
Cranfield, who unsuccessfully stood against then managing partner David Morley to succeed Guy Beringer as senior partner in 2008 (28 January 2008), has co-led the global practice alongside Amsterdam partner Jan Louis Burggraaf since 2008.
Burggraaf took over the managerial position from Wim Dejonghe when the latter was elected as global managing partner, succeeding Morley.
Burggraaf has stepped down as co-head of corporate and Ballheimer will share the role with Amsterdam partner Sietze Hepkema. Hepkema previously held the position from 2000-06, working alongside Cranfield.
Ballheimer said his main focus in the global job would be to continue building up A&O’s international corporate footprint.
“With the increasing importance of the Far East, China will continue to be a priority,” he said. “In the eurozone France and Germany are very important and we’ll continue to build up in those countries.
“The US is a work in progress,” he added.
The firm is currently in the process of looking for a replacement for Ballheimer as head of London corporate. Partners are being asked to put their names forward and if enough interest is shown there will be a vote in the coming weeks.