Mayer Brown has hired a partner from Ashurst to launch its first office in Japan.

Ashurst’s former Tokyo managing partner Rupert Burrows has been named as Mayer Brown’s first partner in Tokyo and will be responsible for setting up the office.

The office will open in the first half of 2018, with further hires expected in the coming months.

It is understood the opening has been in the works at Mayer Brown for around two years.

Corporate partner Burrows has been a partner at Ashurst since 2002 and specialises in the financing and disposal of interests in energy, natural resources and infrastructure projects.

He was head of the firm’s office until June this year until he was replaced by partner Dominic Gregory.

Explaining the firm’s launch in Japan, Mayer Brown chairman Paul Theiss said: “Over the last few years, we have partnered with our clients in building our relationships with Japanese corporations, banks and trading houses.

“The feedback from these clients has been consistent around a central theme – that to continue to develop those relationships and further expand along with them, we now need a presence in Tokyo.

It is expected that the office will focus on project finance, M&A transactions and international arbitration work.

Mayer Brown already has seven offices in Asia across Thailand, Vietnam, China and Singapore. In August last year, the US firm also hired from Ashurst in Hong Kong, recruiting finance partner Doo-Soon Choi.

More recent joiners include Angelia Chia and Ben Sandstad in Singapore, who were both global heads of legal at Standard Chartered Bank in the region.

Commenting on Burrows’ departure, an Ashurst spokesperson said: “Rupert Burrows is leaving Ashurst’s Tokyo office by mutual consent.

“The Tokyo office has been a key part of our Asia Pacific offering for nearly 30 years. Our global Japanese business, including the Japanese law practice, is performing very strongly. We are fully committed to strengthening our business in Japan even further and to pursuing opportunities both internally and externally to achieve that. This is reflected by the investments we have made in Tokyo over the last 18 months with the hiring of exceptional senior talent.”