Activision’s Kotick could see the unexpected purchase

Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard Inc., could walk away with as much as $ 520 million after Microsoft Corp. has completed its planned acquisition of the video game company.

In a securities application on Friday, Activision said Mr Kotick would receive $ 14.4 million in severance pay if he is fired or stops under a variety of circumstances within a year of a change in control of the company. It also said Mr Kotick owns 4.3 million shares and has the right to acquire a further 2.2 million – potentially worth just over $ 500 million in total at a deal price of $ 95 per share. shares. Mr. Kotick received $ 826,549 in compensation in 2021, according to the application.

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Friday’s announcement in Activision’s annual power of attorney statement reflects the company’s final accounts for Mr. Kotick’s stake in the company and potential severance pay under existing agreements. It gives investors their best window to date in the potential unexpected windfall that Mr Kotick could receive after the acquisition, which is awaiting regulatory approval. Activision and Microsoft have said they expect it to close in the spring of 2023.

Robert “Bobby” Kotick, President and CEO of Activision Blizzard Inc. (David Paul Morris / Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Activision said Thursday that its shareholders approved the merger.

Mr. Kotick, 59, is part of a group of people who in 1991 acquired the assets of the company that became Activision Blizzard. He has been its CEO ever since, making him one of the longest-serving executives of a listed technology company. Mr. Kotick is expected to step down from Activision when the deal closes, the Journal reported in January.

A spokeswoman for Activision Blizzard said Mr Kotick bought Activision shares for $ 50 million in 2013 and that he, along with all shareholders, benefited from a 500% increase in value due to the company’s “extraordinary performance” under his leadership over the past eight years. All equity he has earned is based on performance, she said.

ACTIVISION BLIZZARD SHAREHOLDERS APPROVE PROPOSED SALES TO MICROSOFT of DKK 68.7 billion. USD

In its regulatory applications, Activision also said Mr Kotick would not receive additional equity or see his rights to any share allotments accelerated as a result of the purchase or if he were to leave the trade in the wake of the trade. .

Robert Kotick, President and CEO of Activision Blizzard Inc. (Daniel Acker / Bloomberg via Getty Images / Getty Images)

Activision reported paying Mr. Kotick $ 155 million in 2020, mostly in equity, making him the second highest paid CEO in The Wall Street Journal’s annual analysis of compensation for S&P 500 CEOs. At the time, Robert Morgado, Activision’s senior independent director, said the CEO’s salary was earned over four years and reflected more than three decades of value creation for shareholders.

Santa Monica, California-based Activision, known for its Call of Duty, World of Warcraft and Candy Crush franchises, has about 10,000 employees.

Mr. Kotick has been embroiled in controversy as state and federal regulators have accused Activision of abusing employee cases of sexual harassment and gender inequality. In October, Mr Kotick said he had asked Activision’s board of directors to reduce his salary to the minimum allowed under California law for civil servants – $ 62,500 – and that he would waive bonuses and equity grants. The announcement was part of a series of changes that Mr Kotick said were aimed at making the company more diverse and safer for employees.

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Sir. Kotick has even over the years been accused by several women of ill-treatment both inside and outside the workplace, according to people familiar with the incidents and documents, the Journal reported in November. Activision has said the magazine’s article paints “a misleading view of Activision Blizzard and our CEO” and that it “ignores important changes underway to make this the industry’s most inviting and inclusive workplace.”

Microsoft Activision Blizzard

Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard Inc and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella (Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon / Bloomberg via Getty Images | Microsoft / Getty Images)

In late March, a California judge approved a $ 18 million settlement between Activision and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which has investigated the company on charges of sexual harassment and retaliation.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
THAT WE ACTIVISION BLIZZARD INC. 75.60 -1.10 -1.43%
MSFT MICROSOFT CORP. 277.52 -12.11 -4.18%

Separately, Activision was sued in July by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing for allegedly ignoring complaints from female employees about blatant harassment, discrimination and retaliation. The company has said that the lawsuit includes distorted and in many cases false descriptions of its past and that it strives to pay all employees fairly.

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The US Securities and Exchange Commission is also investigating Activision’s allegations of sexual misconduct and discrimination in the workplace. Activision has said it is working with the agency.

Write to Sarah E. Needleman at sarah.needleman@wsj.com and Theo Francis at theo.francis@wsj.com

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