The author of the complaint is more exactly the New York City Employees Retirement System (NYCERS), one of the incarnations of the pension system founded by the State of New York in 1920. Present in the capital of Activision Blizzard, this pension fund accuses Bobby Kotick of having precipitated the takeover bid made by Microsoft for escape responsibility for the faults of which he is accused as a manager of the company. Bobby Kotick was notably implicated directly last November by a Wall Street Journal investigation according to which Kotick had protected various employees accused of reprehensible behavior, also reporting an episode during which the CEO allegedly threatened an assistant with death by telephone. To complete the portrait of the character, we also learned more recently by the Wall Street Journal, again him, that a former companion of Kotick obtained in 2014 a restraining order preventing him from approaching her at the following a harassment case.
Filed in the Delaware Court of Chancery, the NYCERS lawsuit seeks to pressure companies to open their books and expose wrongdoing, if any. In addition to Kotick’s exit door and golden parachute, the pension fund believes Activision Blizzard’s eagerness to do business with Microsoft has hurt the company’s value. An argument already more difficult to swallow, Microsoft having put on the table 68.7 billion dollars at the rate of an offer at 95.5 dollars per share. It should also be remembered that more than 98% of shareholders have already happily voted in favor of the takeover, obviously satisfied with this historic amount.
“New York City is demanding that Activision provide a long list of documents, including documents relating to the agreement with Microsoft, information on five potential buyers cited in the official description of the Activision sale negotiations, and notes from the board of directors“, reports the Axios site which revealed the existence of this complaint. The New York fund hopes to obtain internal documents which would make it possible to implicate Bobby Kotick in the sexual misconduct cases which have caused a stir since the summer. latest.
One thing is certain, Bobby Kotick and Phil Spencer of Microsoft have themselves acknowledged that the negotiations were unusually fast for an operation of this caliber. According to the leaders, the exchanges leading to this historic agreement only began last November, at the exact moment when the boss of Activision Blizzard was under pressure like never before following the cutting-edge investigation by the Wall Street Journal.
“Given Kotick’s personal liability and responsibility for worsening working conditions at Activision, it should have been clear to the board that he was unfit to negotiate a sale of the company.“, criticizes the complaint. NYCERS denounces the fact that this rapid agreement allows “Kotick and his fellow directors to escape liability for their flagrant breaches of their fiduciary duty“, can we read.
“Microsoft opened acquisition talks on Nov. 19, 2021, but the board didn’t hold a meeting to discuss Microsoft’s approach until two weeks later, on Dec. 1, 2021. Between those two dates, without Board clearance or actual Microsoft offer, Kotick blithely informed Microsoft that it would be willing to accept an offer in the range of $90 to $105 per share.“, relates the complaint.
“The speed with which Kotick moved to not only set a bid cap, but to execute a deal, was predictable. Not only did the merger offer Kotick and his fellow directors a way to escape responsibility for their flagrant breaches of fiduciary duty, but it also offered Kotick the opportunity for substantial unshared profits.“, she adds.
“We do not agree with the allegations made in this complaint and look forward to presenting our case to the Court.“, replied a representative of Activison Blizzard to the site Games Industry.
For Activision Blizzard, the New York claim comes on top of complaints from the state of California that started the whole affair, relentless pressure from its activist employees who are still fighting for internal reforms and a union, or even an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the US Federal Financial Markets Authority. It is in this context that the Federal Trade Commissionthe agency in charge of controlling anti-competitive business practices and other monopolistic situations, is currently examining Microsoft’s takeover bid.
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