Ashurst has hired restructuring partner Damien Whitehead from White & Case in Hong Kong, as the firm attempts to rebuild the practice in Asia.

Whitehead was most recently a local partner at the U.S. firm’s Hong Kong office, where he advised banks, investment funds and corporate debtors on insolvency and restructuring matters.

Whitehead was with White & Case for less than two years, having moved there in early 2016 from Herbert Smith Freehills, where he led the Hong Kong and China insolvency practice as a senior consultant. He practiced with Baker McKenzie before that, and worked as in-house counsel for ANZ Banking Group Ltd. on insolvency matters earlier in his career.

With Whitehead’s recruitment, Ashurst is rebuilding an Asian restructuring practice, which suffered a string of departures in 2016 and 2017. Most recently in July 2017, Jakarta-based senior consultant Debby Sulaiman left for Herbert Smith Freehills’ associated Indonesian firm, Hiswara Bunjamin & Tandjung. In 2016, Singapore partner Joel Hogarth and Hong Kong partner Bertie Mehigan both left the firm.

The trio were part of a four-strong team that Ashurst hired in 2014 from O’Melveny & Myers in an effort to boost restructuring and special situations capability in Asia, especially in Indonesia. The fourth lawyer, Ratih ‘Ipop‘ Nawangsari, remains a partner at Ashurst in Jakarta.

In May, Ashurst promoted Singapore-based banking counsel Jean Woo to partner. The firm’s Asia Pacific restructuring practice, led by Sydney partner James Marshall, now has 11 partners; all but Whitehead and Woo are based in Australia.