Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick Looks At $375 Million Payday After Microsoft Deal

Last year, Activision received Blizzard Inc. Chief Executive Officer Bobby Kotick a 50% pay cut. This year, he’s set for a $375.3 million windfall.

Last year, Activision received Blizzard Inc. Chief Executive Officer Bobby Kotick a 50% pay cut. This year, he’s set for a $375.3 million windfall. That’s the amount the video game manager will receive before taxes when Microsoft Corp. completes its $68.7 billion deal to buy Activision. It’s a remarkable reward for a leader whose recent tenure has been marked by employee complaints about sexism, a hostile work culture and mismanagement of sexual assault claims.

As late as November, Kotick, 58, was the target of worker strikes and petitions demanding his removal over reports that he had failed to notify the company’s board of allegations of rape and other serious misconduct.

CEO as of 2017, Kotick owns nearly 4 million shares of Activision, the most of any officers or directors, filings show. The second largest holder, Board Chairman Brian Kelly, owns 1.4 million through trusts and a foundation, a stake valued at $137.1 million based on the deal terms.

At a 45% premium over Activision’s closing price on Friday, Microsoft’s $95 per share bid nearly wiped out the blow to Kotick’s stock position last year when revelations of years of harassment and cover-up allegations left stocks confused. Shares of the Santa Monica, California-based company gained 26% on Tuesday, closing at $82.31 in New York.

Kotick’s compensation was controversial even before the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing sued the video game publisher in July, describing a “frat boy” retaliatory culture. Earlier, the company announced it was cutting Kotick’s salary and bonus in half for 2021 in response to criticism that his compensation package was excessive compared to peers.

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In 2020, Kotick received a total compensation of $155 million. Most of that came in the form of moonshot incentive stock awards given by the board in 2016.

The “vast majority” of Kotick’s total compensation for 2020 was “the result of successfully delivering significant shareholder returns over a four-year period,” an Activision spokesperson said in an email.

After two months of disclosures and tumbling stocks, Kotick asked the board in October to reduce his compensation to $62,500, the lowest amount allowed by California law, and to deny him bonuses or stock grants.

Kotick will remain as CEO, according to a statement from Microsoft Tuesday, although a person familiar with the deal said he would only remain in the position until the deal is finalized.

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