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Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick reportedly due to receive $200m payout

Shareholder Value Creative Incentive clause means publisher boss will earn four years worth of rewards

The financial compensations for Bobby Kotick are once again under fire, as the Activision Blizzard CEO stands to earn a payout of up to $200 million.

The CtW Investment Group claims Activision's success over the past year has triggered the Shareholder Value Creative Incentive clause of Kotick's employment agreement, Kotaku reports.

CtW is an investor group that states its mission is to hold companies accountable for "irresponsible and unethical corporate behaviour and excessive executive pay."

Due in large part to the pandemic, and a banner year for Call of Duty, Activision enjoyed a record financial year.

Over the course of the last 12 months, its stock price has jumped from $56 per share to $92, where it currently sits. Back in February, it reached over $100 per share.

Since the stock has spent more than 90 days at double the value it was when Kotick's employment agreement went into effect in 2016 -- with a share price of $32 in March of that year -- the Shareholder Value Creative Incentive has reportedly been triggered.

This is said to entitle Kotick to all the bonuses he missed in previous years, even if this was due to failing to meet performance targets. According to CtW's calculations, this can be up to $200 million.

CtW has criticised the payout, questioning whether Kotick should be rewarded for company-wide success that can be at least partly attributed to circumstances that are beyond his control.

"While the increase in Activision's stock price is somewhat commendable, as we stated last year and continue to assert, this achievement alone does not justify such a substantial pay outcome for the CEO," Michael Varner, the group's director of executive compensation research, said in a statement shared by GameSpot.

"There are many factors that may contribute to a rise in this particular company's stock price that may not be directly attributable to Robert Kotick's leadership. The use of video games as one of the few entertainment options available amid the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, has been a boon to many companies in the gaming industry irrespective of executive talent or strategic decisions."

The news follows yesterday's report that Activision Blizzard had laid off 50 employees, primarily from its live events and esports business, with the publisher citing the impact of the pandemic on such events.

CtW Investment Group previously criticised Activision Blizzard last year for continuing to grant Kotick "outsized equity awards" despite not meeting performance-related targets.

The group even urged shareholders to vote against the Management Say on Pay proposal, which would enable these rewards.

CtW also launched a shareholder campaign against Electronic Arts, claiming the publisher had demonstrated an "excessive equity granting problem" in the way of mass layoffs.

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