Tokyo partner Graeme Preston is to lead Herbert Smith Freehills in Asia, effective 1 September 2023.
Currently Asia Head of Corporate, Graeme advises Japanese and international clients on cross-border M&A, joint ventures and strategic alliances in a wide range of global markets. He has been based in Tokyo since 2009, working with clients on investments in Southeast Asia, India, Europe, Africa and other global markets.
"I congratulate Graeme on his appointment as Asia managing partner, and look forward to working with him to achieve the firm's ambitions in this region," said Kristin Stammer, Executive Partner, East.
"His deep knowledge of our people, business and clients in Asia makes him the ideal candidate for this next phase of expansion."
Graeme will replace May Tai as Asia managing partner upon the completion of her term.
"It is an honour to take charge of our outstanding Asia practice at such an important time," said Graeme. "Under May's leadership, the team has achieved so much in the past three years and is well placed for further growth."
"That means investing smartly but boldly in people and practices – in Southeast Asia and Japan to match our China presence, and in our priority areas of private capital, energy transition and tech."
"We'll also invest in all our people, to build best-in-class teams in Asia, enhance our working environment and increase collaboration on talent and expertise – particularly with our Australian practice, which is absolutely top of its market."
From 1 September 2023, May will become a consultant of the firm, continuing her work with the firm's clients alongside her personal arbitral practice and other projects.
"I've known May since her earliest days as a trainee in our London office in 2001, and it has been a pleasure to watch her develop, both as an arbitration practitioner of considerable repute and as a skilled leader within our firm," said CEO Justin D'Agostino.
"I'd like to thank May for her commitment to our people and clients in Asia, and wish her well for her future endeavours in and outside the firm."
A native of Edinburgh, Scotland, Graeme graduated from the University of Oxford with a bachelor's degree in modern history, then attended Nottingham Law School before joining the firm in London in 2000. He moved to the firm's Tokyo office in 2009 and was promoted to partner in 2012. During his career, Graeme has also been based in Hong Kong, Singapore and Jakarta. He was appointed head of the firm's Asia corporate practice in 2019.