A group of US senators, including Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, are calling for more scrutiny of Microsoft’s proposed takeover of Activision Blizzardciting concerns over reports of misconduct at the Call of Duty giant. The Wall Street Journal reported for the first time on this subject. After this story was published, Activision Blizzard issued a statement (see below) in which it said that Microsoft supports Activision Blizzard’s “goals and ongoing work” to improve corporate culture.
US senators including Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker and Sheldon Whitehouse wrote their letter to Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan. Lawmakers said the FTC should consider whether Microsoft’s proposed takeover of Activision Blizzard could “exacerbate the wave of allegations of sexual abuse, harassment and retaliation at Activision stemming from recent federal and state investigations.”
Just this week, a judge approved Activision Blizzard’s workplace culture issues settlement that will see the company create a $18 million fund to compensate and repair affected workers. This was just one of the lawsuits Activision Blizzard is facing regarding its workplace issues.
The senators also said they were concerned that Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick, who himself has been accused of knowing about and covering up instances of sexual harassment and other abuse, is staying with the company. company and potentially earning a massive payout under the terms of the deal. It has been reported that Kotick will leave after the deal closes.
It is a rule that mergers of a significant size must be approved by the U.S. government on antitrust matters, so a review was always going to take place. But the senators submit their comments separately from that and cite their own specific concerns. the WSJ has already reported that Khan, the chairman of the FTC, would specifically consider whether Microsoft’s proposed takeover of Activision Blizzard would “significantly lessen competition”.
“We are deeply concerned about consolidation in the tech industry and its impact on workers,” the Democratic senators said in their letter, as reported by The Wall Street Journal.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella believes the deal will close, which comes as no surprise. He said in an interview that, should the deal go through, Microsoft still number three in terms of market share.
A spokesperson for Activision Blizzard sent a statement in response to US senators pressuring the FTC to review the Microsoft/Activision Blizzard deal. You can read the full statement below.
“On Tuesday, the federal court approved a settlement agreement between Activision Blizzard and the EEOC that includes an $18 million fund to compensate eligible plaintiffs and to reinforce improvements in policies, practices and training to prevent the harassment and discrimination in the workplace, among other commitments. The company is committed to providing a safe and fair work environment for all its employees and has invested significant resources to ensure that we create a model for the The transaction between Microsoft and Activision Blizzard will not interrupt any of the actions Activision Blizzard management has implemented throughout 2021 and continues to implement in 2022 with regards to improving of our workplace. Activision Blizzard’s leadership team discussed corporate goals extensively with Microsoft, and Microsoft reviewed the reno commitment. ve in culture and the actions that Activision Blizzard has made so far, and the efforts that they have undertaken. given the objectives and the work accomplished. This is a compelling transaction for all stakeholders, including employees.
“No additional special compensation arrangements for Mr. Kotick have been entered into as part of the transaction. Mr. Kotick’s base salary has been reduced to California’s minimum annual salary (which is approximately $62,500 for 2022), and he will not receive any bonuses or until the Workplace Responsibility Committee of the Activision Blizzard Board of Directors determines that Activision Blizzard has made appropriate progress toward achieving the goals transformative and other commitments described in this announcement.
Microsoft is seeking to pay $68.7 billion to acquire Activision Blizzard in the tech giant’s biggest acquisition of all time. It would only be Microsoft’s last major takeover, which bought ZeniMax in 2021 for $7.5 billion.