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Robert I. Townsend III

Partner, Corporate

Robert I. Townsend, III is the Head of Cravath’s Mergers and Acquisitions practice for North America. His practice focuses primarily on all types of M&A transactions, corporate governance matters and activist defense. Mr. Townsend’s clients have included AmerisourceBergen, Anheuser‑Busch InBev, Brink’s, Brunswick, Cincinnati Bell, Conduent, Frontier Communications, J.D. Power, Johnson & Johnson, MacAndrews & Forbes, Martin Marietta Materials, Nestlé, Olin, OUTFRONT Media, Pinnacle Foods, Quest Diagnostics, Scientific Games, Stanley Black & Decker and US Foods.

Recent transactions include representing:

  • J.D. Power in its pending sale to Thoma Bravo;
  • Frontier Communications in its pending sale of operations in Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington to WaveDivision Capital in partnership with Searchlight Capital Partners and its acquisition of certain businesses from Verizon;
  • Johnson & Johnson in its acquisition of Auris Health, its acquisition of Ci:z Holdings, the sale of its Advanced Sterilization Products business to Fortive, the sale of its LifeScan business to Platinum Equity, its acquisition of Actelion, the sale of its Codman Neurosurgery business to Integra LifeSciences, its acquisition of Abbott Medical Optics, its acquisition of Novira Therapeutics, the sale of its Cordis business to Cardinal Health, its acquisition of Alios BioPharma, the sale of its Ortho‑Clinical Diagnostics business to The Carlyle Group, its acquisitions of Synthes, Covagen, Crucell, Mentor Corporation, Omrix Biopharmaceuticals and Conor Medsystems, its acquisition of Pfizer’s consumer healthcare businesses, its takeover battle for Guidant and its acquisitions of ALZA and Scios;
  • US Foods in its acquisition of SGA Food Group;
  • Pinnacle Foods in its acquisition by Conagra Brands and its acquisition of Boulder Brands;
  • Scientific Games in its acquisition of Don Best Sports and its acquisition of Bally Technologies;
  • Stanley Black & Decker in its investment in MTD Products and its acquisitions of the Craftsman brand from Sears and the Tools business of Newell Brands;
  • Brunswick in the sale of its Fitness business to KPS Capital Partners, its acquisition of Power Products’ Global Marine & Mobile business and its interactions with Owl Creek Asset Management;
  • Conduent in the sale of its commercial vehicle operations business to Alinda Capital Partners and the sale of its U.S.‑based human resource consulting and actuarial business to H.I.G. Capital;
  • Cincinnati Bell in its combination with Hawaiian Telcom, its acquisition of OnX Enterprise Solutions, the sale of its wireless spectrum licenses to Verizon, its acquisition of CyrusOne, the sale of its directory business and its acquisition of IXC;
  • Martin Marietta in its acquisition of Bluegrass Materials;
  • Anheuser‑Busch InBev in its acquisition of SABMiller and an asset swap with Ambev in which AB InBev transferred SABMiller’s Panamanian business to Ambev and Ambev transferred its business in Colombia, Peru and Ecuador to AB InBev;
  • OUTFRONT Media in the sale of its Latin America business to JCDecaux Latin America / Corameq;
  • UTi Worldwide in its sale to DSV and its negotiations with its shareholder P2 Capital;
  • AmerisourceBergen in its acquisition of PharMEDium, its acquisition of MWI Veterinary Supply and its strategic relationship with Walgreens and Alliance Boots;
  • MarkWest in its merger with MPLX;
  • Olin in its Reverse Morris Trust acquisition of the chlorine value chain business of Dow Chemical;
  • Lender Processing Services in its acquisition by Fidelity National Financial;
  • Arch Chemicals in its acquisition by Lonza;
  • Millipore in its acquisition by Merck;
  • Stanley Works in its acquisition of Black & Decker;
  • Pepsi Bottling Group in its acquisition by PepsiCo;
  • EMBARQ in its merger with CenturyTel;
  • Nestlé in the sale of its stake in Alcon to Novartis and its acquisition of Ralston Purina;
  • Sprint in its merger with Nextel;
  • Brink’s in its shareholder activism contests with Pirate Capital and MMI and its spin‑off of Brink’s Home Security;
  • PricewaterhouseCoopers in the sale of its consulting business to IBM; and
  • Clorox in its repurchase of shares from Henkel.

Mr. Townsend has been repeatedly cited as one of the country’s leading practitioners in mergers and acquisitions by, among others, Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business from 2007 through 2019; Chambers Global: The World’s Leading Lawyers for Business from 2007 through 2019; The Legal 500 from 2010 through 2019; IFLR1000 from 2006 through 2019; and The Best Lawyers in America from 2007 through 2020. In 2018, he was selected as a “Mergers & Acquisitions MVP” by Law360 and a Mergers & Acquisitions Trailblazer by The National Law Journal. From 2010 through 2019, Mr. Townsend was named a leading lawyer for his transactional work in the telecoms and broadcast industry by The Legal 500. He was recognized for his activism defense work in 2019 and his transactional work in the technology industry in 2016 by The Legal 500. Mr. Townsend was also named to Lawdragon’s list of the “500 Leading Lawyers in America” from 2011 through 2019.

Mr. Townsend was born in New York, New York. He received an A.B. magna cum laude from Harvard College in 1987 and a J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1990, where he was Executive Editor of the Harvard Law Review. He joined Cravath in 1990 and became a partner in 1998.

Mr. Townsend may be reached by phone at +1‑212‑474‑1964 or by email at

Mr. Townsend is admitted only in New York.

+1 (212) 474-1964
+1 (212) 474-3700