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Robert S. Townsend

Townsend, Robert S.


San Francisco, (415) 268-7080


University of California, Berkeley (B.S., 1978)
Stanford Law School (J.D., 1984)

Bar Admissions


Robert Townsend serves as co-chair of Morrison & Foerster's Global M+A Practice Group. He has extensive transactional experience in the fields of mergers and acquisitions, securities law, technology and intellectual property matters, leveraged buyouts, and venture capital. Mr. Townsend's experience includes transactions in numerous industries, such as software, Internet, media, communications, semiconductor, computers, consumer products, healthcare, life sciences, Cleantech, energy, wineries and vineyards. Mr. Townsend also has extensive international experience, having been involved in transactions in the United States, Europe, Asia, and Latin America.

Mr. Townsend has represented numerous public and private companies and investors in corporate and finance matters ranging from mergers and acquisitions to seed round financings and initial public offerings. He regularly advises CEOs, Boards of Directors and Special Committees in strategic and corporate governance issues. Mr. Townsend has represented clients in more than 200 public and private company acquisitions, strategic alliances and financings, ranging in size from more than several billion dollars to much smaller transactions.

Mr. Townsend moved to the Tokyo office in 1990 where he served as managing partner from 1994 to 1996. Mr. Townsend served as chair of Morrison & Foerster's Global Business Department from 1996 to 2003.

Mr. Townsend previously worked as a legislative assistant for U.S. Congressman Don Edwards from 1979 to 1981.

Mr. Townsend is renowned for his M&A acumen and widely recognized by leading independent authorities. He has been named “Dealmaker of the Year” by the M&A Advisor and honored as the “California Lawyer of the Year” (“CLAY”) for transactional law. He is recommended as a leading lawyer by Chambers USA, Legal 500 US, and IFLR1000. Clients interviewed for Chambers USA 2013 asserts that he is “highly responsive and provides great client service” and is a highly tactical M&A lawyer with deep expertise in Asian deals.” Mr. Townsend is hailed by clients reviewed for Chambers USA 2014 as “extremely knowledgeable about recent trends and cases,” and “widely acknowledged for his expert work in high-value transactions.” His other honors include:

  • Recognized as a leading lawyer by Chambers USA 2014 for excellence in the field of M&A/Corporate work
  • Named Global M&A Lawyer of the Year in 2014 by the Major Markets M&A Atlas Awards
  • Named a Law360 2013 MVP for M&A
  • Selected as the “Dealmaker of the Week” by The American Lawyer in 2013 for his work on the Sprint/Softbank deal, which they designated as the ”Global M&A Deal of the Year, U.S.”
  • Named to the 2013 list of Top 100 Lawyers in California by The Daily Journal
  • Selected as one of the “2010 Attorneys of the Year” by The Recorder
  • Recognized as a BTI Client Service All-Star
  • Named as one of the Best Lawyers in America in the field of Corporate Law and M&A Law (2008-present)
  • Recognized by his peers as a “Highly Recommended Practitioner: Corporate Finance, M&A, and Joint Ventures” in the Mergers and Acquisitions Global Counsel Handbook for the past few years

Representative transactions handled by Mr. Townsend appear below.  To view a more complete list see Matters.

VMware in its acquisition of AirWatch
Represented VMware in its $1.54 billion acquisition of AirWatch, a privately held mobile device management provider.
SoftBank in its acquisition of Sprint Nextel
Represented Japanese wireless carrier SoftBank in its acquisition of a 78% stake in wireless operator Sprint Nextel for an enterprise value of $44.8 billion. This deal is the largest Asian acquisition or investment in the U.S.
SoftBank in Sprint's acquisition of Clearwire
Represented SoftBank in connection with Sprint's $4 billion acquisition of the approximately 50 percent stake in Clearwire Corporation that Sprint does not already own for a total enterprise value of approximately $14 billion.
Pinnacle in its acquisition of Ameristar Casinos
Represented Pinnacle Entertainment, Inc., a NYSE-listed casino owner/operator, in its bid to acquire NASDAQ-listed Ameristar Casinos, Inc. in an all-cash merger, with a total enterprise value of $2.8 billion, including debt of $1.9 billion and cash on hand of $116 million.
Intel in its acquisition of a Dutch chip manufacturer
Represented Intel Corporation in its $4.1 billion investment in ASML, a Dutch chip manufacturer.
Intel in its acquisition of LSI’s Axxia Networking Business
Advised Intel Corporation in its $650 million acquisition in Axxia Networking Business, a leading designer, developer and global supplier of a broad range of analog semiconductor devices with a focus on III-V based products and complex digital and mixed signal CMOS based devices.
Intel in its acquisition of McAfee
Represented Intel Corporation in its largest acquisition ever, the $7.7 billion acquisition of McAfee, Inc., the world's largest dedicated security technology company.
Intel in its acquisition of Infineon’s WLS business unit
Represented Intel Corporation in its acquisition of the Wireless Solutions business (WLS) unit of German chip maker Infineon Technologies AG for $1.4 billion.
Intel in its acquisition of Wind River
Represented Intel Corporation (NASDAQ: INTC) in its $1 billion acquisition of Wind River Systems (NASDAQ: WIND), a software vendor in embedded devices through a public tender offer. The transaction was recognized as Merger/Acquisition of the Year 2009 by San Francisco Business Times.
The Clorox Company in its carveout sale of auto-related business
Represented The Clorox Company in the carveout sale of its auto-related business to Avista Capital Partners, a New York private equity firm, for $780 million.
The Clorox Company in its acquisition of Burt's Bees
Represented The Clorox Company in its $950 million all-cash acquisition of Burt's Bees, a leader in natural personal care consumer products.
Visa Inc. in its joint venture with U.S. Bancorp
Represented Visa Inc. (NYSE: V) in its joint venture with U.S. Bancorp (NYSE: USB). The new joint venture, called Syncada LLC, will handle payments between corporations and government agencies. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
Eagle River in its investment in Clearwire Corporation
Represented Eagle River in its investment in a $14.5 billion funding for Clearwire. Other investors included Sprint, Comcast, Intel, Time Warner Cable, and Bright House.
Sumitomo Heavy Industries and TPG in an unsolicited proposal to acquire Axcelis Technologies Inc.
Represented a consortium of Sumitomo Heavy Industries and TPG in an unsolicited proposal to buy semiconductor equipment maker Axcelis Technologies Inc. (Nasdaq: ACLS) for about $640 million with debt. Successful in securing for our clients the ability to conduct diligence and negotiate with target board ultimately resulting in an acquisition by SHI of certain select assets of target.
GESD Capital Partners in its acquisition of eight top wineries
Represented private equity firm GESD Capital Partners, through its new portfolio wine company Ascentia, in the acquisition of eight top California and Northwest wineries for more than $200 million from the world’s largest winemaker and beverage alcohol importer, Constellation Brands.
Cleantech America in its sale to New Zealand's largest electricity generator from renewable resources
Represented Cleantech America, a San Francisco-based developer of utility scale photovoltaic solar farms, in its acquisition by Meridian Energy, the largest electricity generator from renewable resources in New Zealand. Price undisclosed.
Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker, Inc. in its sale to The Hershey Corporation
Represented Scharffen Berger, a first-tier chocolate manufacturer, in its acquisition by The Hershey Corporation.
Novellus Systems in its merger with Lam Research
Represented Novellus Systems, Inc. in its $3.3 billion merger with Lam Research.