Embattled Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick could be receiving some $400 million after Microsoft completes its $70 billion acquisition of the company.
That’s quite a reversal from the massive 99.9% pay cut Kotick requested in October last year following a company scandal.
According to Reuters, Kotick will receive at least $390 million when the Microsoft deal is completed. Most of his payout would come from the 3.95 million company shares he holds.
The state of California sued Activision Blizzard last year, alleging equal pay violations, sex discrimination, and sexual harassment.
Last July, California’s fair employment agency filed a lawsuit against the gaming giant, accusing the Call of Duty publisher of creating a “‘frat boy’ workplace culture” that is a “breeding ground for harassment and discrimination against women.”
According to the lawsuit, the company “allegedly fostered a sexist culture and paid women less than men despite women doing substantially similar work, assigned women to lower-level jobs, and promoted them at slower rates than men, and fired or forced women to quit at higher frequencies than men.”
In October, Kotick told employees he’d asked the company’s board to reduce his overall annual compensation to $62,500 — the minimum allowed under California law — an over 99.9% reduction from the $155 million in compensation he received in 2020. Kotick also said in the letter he’d asked to stop receiving any bonuses or equities and pledged to improve company culture.
Even before the scandal last year, Kotick had received a 50% reduction to his base salary, according to a regulatory filing. The move was made to address criticism over his outsized compensation, Axios reported.
An activist investor group is already calling for Kotick’s ouster over his potential massive payout. However, he is expected to exit Activision Blizzard only after Microsoft takes over, according to The Wall Street Journal and Axios.
“Now that I think it’s highly likely that he will retire once the deal is through, what are the accountability mechanisms for his years of leadership of the company?” Dieter Waizenegger, executive director of the activist investor group SOC, told Axios. “I think that that needs to be linked to any golden parachute.”