King & Spalding has hired a new energy head in Singapore to boost its practice in South East Asia.

Richard Nelson joins the firm from Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) where he had previously led its regional energy practice.

Nelson advises oil and gas companies in Asia and the Middle East. He was previously with Linklaters in London representing BP during his nine year stint at the firm. He later joined HSF in 2008 to launch its Singapore energy practice.

In response HSF has relocated Hong Kong-based Asia energy head David Clinch to lead the team in Singapore.

HSF’s Asian offices has seen a string of recent exits with former Asia managing partner Mark Johnson joining Debevoise & Plimpton, ex-Tokyo corporate head James Robinson moving to Morrison & Foerster, and Hong Kong-based corporate partner Gary Lock defecting to King & Wood Mallesons.

The firm has been hiring too and last year it brought in Ashurst corporate partners Ian Williams and Damien Roberts in Brisbane and Tokyo respectively.

King & Spalding opened its Singapore office in 2010 and focuses on energy, projects work and international arbitration.