In a stock filing on Friday, Activision said Mr. Kotick will receive $14.4 million in compensation if he is terminated or resigns under various circumstances within a year of the change of control at the company. It also said Mr. Kotick owns 4.3 million shares and has the right to acquire another 2.2 million shares – potentially worth more than $500 million at a combined price of $95 a share. Mr. Kotick received $826,549 in compensation in 2021, according to the filing.
Friday’s disclosure, in Activision’s annual agent statement, reflects the company’s final accounting for Mr. Kotick’s stake in the company and potential separation under existing agreements. It provides investors with their best window yet into the potential windfall Mr. Kotick could have after the takeover, which awaits regulatory approval. Activision and Microsoft said they expect to close it by the spring of 2023.
On Thursday, Activision said its shareholders had 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 served as its CEO ever since, making him one of the longest-serving presidents at the publicly traded technology company. The newspaper reported in January that Mr Kotick is expected to step down from Activision when the deal closes.
An Activision Blizzard spokeswoman said that Mr. Kotick bought $50 million worth of Activision stock in 2013 and that, along with all shareholders, they have benefited from a 500% increase in value due to the company’s “exceptional performance” under his leadership over the past eight years. She said all the shares he acquired were performance-based.
In its regulatory filings, Activision also said that Mr. Kotick is unable to receive any additional shares, or see his rights to any accelerated stock awards, as a result of the acquisition, or if he should leave in the wake of the transaction.
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 S&P 500 CEO compensation. At the time, Robert Morgado, independent director, said Activision’s flagship company, CEO pay has been generated over a four-year period and has reflected more than three decades of shareholder value creation.
Activision in Santa Monica, California, known for its Call of Duty, World of Warcraft and Candy Crush franchises, has about 10,000 employees.
Mr Kotick has been controversial, with state and federal regulators accusing Activision of mishandling issues of sexual harassment of employees and gender pay disparity. 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 wage workers – $62,500 – and that he would forgo bonuses and stock awards. 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.
The newspaper reported in November that Mr. Kotick himself had been accused over the years by several women of mistreatment both inside and outside the workplace, according to people familiar with the incidents and documents. Activision said that the magazine article paints a “misleading view of Activision Blizzard and our CEO” and that it “ignores the important changes underway to make this the most welcoming and inclusive workplace in the industry.”
In late March, a California judge approved an $18 million settlement between Activision and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which has been investigating the company over allegations of sexual harassment and retaliation.
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Separately, Activision filed a lawsuit in July by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing for ignoring complaints from female employees of blatant harassment, discrimination and retaliation. The company said the lawsuit includes distorted and, often, false descriptions of its past, and that it strives to fairly pay all employees.
The US Securities and Exchange Commission Activision is also investigating employee allegations of sexual misconduct and discrimination in the workplace. Activision said it is cooperating with the agency.
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