Activision CEO Bobby Kotick will leave Coca-Cola’s board before Microsoft deal closes

CEO of Activision Blizzard, Bobby Kotick, speaks onstage during “Managing Excellence: Getting Consistently Great Results” at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on October 19, 2016, in San Francisco.

Michael Kovac | Getty Images

Coca-Cola Co. said Friday that Bobby Kotick, CEO of video game publisher Activision Blizzard, would not stand for re-election to the company’s board of directors.

Kotick is stepping down as the company works to complete the sale to Microsoft for $68.7 billion, the largest U.S. technology transaction in history. The deal was announced in January, and Microsoft expects it to close in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2023.

“I have decided not to stand for re-election to The Coca-Cola Company board in order to focus my full attention on Activision Blizzard at this pivotal time as we prepare for our merger with Microsoft,” Kotick, who served as a company director for 10 years, said in a statement.

Kotick, 58, has emerged as a controversial figure in recent months. The Wall Street Journal reported in November that women have accused Kotick of misconduct, alleging he didn’t share everything he knew about mistreatment inside Activision with the company’s board. The family of an employee who committed suicide filed suit on Thursday against Activision in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleging wrongful death.

Kotick’s involvement in politics also has drawn scrutiny. Through secret companies, he funded Republican campaigns in 2020 as well as GOP causes, CNBC reported last month.

Coke has a financial relationship with Activision, but the beverage giant’s board determined the relationship wasn’t material, in part because sponsorship agreements represented less than 1% of Activision’s gross revenue, according to an SEC filing.

Kotick received $340,003 in total compensation for his board work from Coca-Cola in 2020, the filing said.

SOC Investment Group, a Washington-based nonprofit organization that works with union-backed pension funds on shareholder activism campaigns, had urged Coca-Cola director Maria Elena Lagomasino to persuade her fellow board members not to nominate Kotick for re-election before Microsoft announced its bid for Activision Blizzard.

Kotick isn’t suitable to sit on Coca-Cola’s board, because he learned of abuse by Activision Blizzard executive but tried to retain them or reduce their disciplinary action, among other alleged issues, Dieter Waizenegger, SOC’s executive director, told Lagomasino in a December letter.

“His actions and statement are clearly disqualifying, and if he is renominated we will have no choice but to oppose his re-election as well as that of other Coca-Cola directors,” Waizenegger wrote.

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