Denise Jong, Reed Smith Denise Jong of Reed Smith.

Reed Smith has appointed Hong Kong partner Denise Jong to be the firm’s next managing partner for the Asia Pacific.

Jong will take over on Jan. 1, 2018, from incumbent Roger Parker, who has overseen Asia from his base in London over the past decade. She will be the first Asia-based partner to hold a regional leadership position since the 2008 merger of Pittsburgh-based Reed Smith and U.K. firm Richards Butler.

Parker, former managing partner of legacy Richards Butler, will retire from the firm’s partnership and become senior counsel to the firm.

“We’ve always felt that there will come a time when Asia will reach a sufficient critical mass with enough boots on the ground and [we will have] a managing partner in Asia to deal with issues from the region,” said Jong. “We’ve actually reached that milestone.”

The firm’s Hong Kong office, still branded as Reed Smith Richards Butler, negotiated and merged with the U.S. firm separately from the legacy U.K. firm. Hong Kong and a small Beijing office were at the time the firm’s only base in Asia. In 2012, four years into the merger, three Hong Kong partners, including former office senior partner Chris Howse, left to launch their own practice.

A Richards Butler partner in Hong Kong since 1998, Jong advises on China-related corporate transactions, including securities offers and mergers and acquisitions. In 2016, she advised longtime firm client Dalian Wanda Group Co. Ltd. on a $4.4 billion deal to take subsidiary Dalian Wanda Commercial Properties Co. Ltd. private from the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

In long-running proceedings that ended earlier in 2017, Reed Smith’s Hong Kong office also successfully defended Chinese investment company Citic Ltd. against market misconduct allegations brought up by the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission.

Jong said the firm’s Asia practice set itself apart from peers by having a stable mix of local clients and not relying heavily on referrals from the rest of the world into the region.

Reed Smith created the role of Asia Pacific managing partner in September 2016 after dividing the duties of the previous position of managing partner for Europe, Middle East and Asia.

The 2016 management change, which saw structured finance partner Tamara Box take on the role of Europe and Middle East managing partner and Parker assume the Asia Pacific managing partner position, was part of the firm’s strategy to place greater emphasis on Asia expansion.

Parker, who as Richards Butler managing partner was instrumental to the 2008 merger of the British firm and Reed Smith, oversaw several key developments during his 10 years overseeing Asia. In 2012, Reed Smith added Shanghai and Singapore offices; and in 2016, the Singapore office entered into a formal law alliance with local boutique Resource Law.

Jong will continue her fee earning practice while taking on the regional management role. She also continues to serve as global co-chair of the firm’s corporate practice.