Activision Blizzard is delaying an important vote on executive pay, following criticism of excessive executive salaries, particularly CEO Bobby Kotick’s $154.6 million compensation.
Company shareholders are now scheduled to vote on June 21 on the “say-on-pay” executive compensation plan. Most other items on the company’s agenda were approved earlier today.
The delay is being called the company’s “desperate attempt” to avoid losing the vote and therefore the larger executive salary compensations by the the labor-backed investment firm CtW Investment Group, Bloomberg reports.
Activision is stating that “misleading” information may cause shareholders to vote against its compensation plan, referring to CtW’s previous lobbying efforts against Activision’s executive compensation packages.
CtW lobbied against Activision in 2020 and 2021. The criticism of Activision seems to be growing, with say-on-pay receiving only 57% support from shareholders in 2020, down from previous years. CtW’s work is effectively aimed at Kotick’s compensation, which has been criticized by some for being excessively high. Activision has responded by increasing its efforts to court shareholders’ votes, Bloomberg says.
Kotick took a 50% salary cut in 2020, but the matter of his overall compensation was bigger than you’d think, as reported by IGN’s Rebekah Valentine. Kotick made approximately $150 million in stock awards, and later had his salary reduced from $1.75 million to $875,000.
Criticism of Kotick’s compensation has previously spiked during news of mass layoffs at Activision-Blizzard. The company laid off approximately 800 employees in 2019 and another 190 earlier this year.
Activision has in recent times submitted SEC filings that stipulate Kotick’s compensation be adjusted to something more in line with other games industry executives. In 2018, Kotick was named the 45th most overpaid CEO by As You Sow, a non-profit shareholder advocacy group. As You Sow stated that Kotick was overpaid by almost $13 million in 2018, giving him a 306:1 pay ratio on the average Activision employee at the time.
Kotick is also the second-highest paid CEO on the S&P 500 list, according to Wall Street Journal.
86% of Activision shareholders have already voted on the matter of Kotick’s compensation, so it remains to be seen what the outcome will be come June 21.
Joseph Knoop is a writer/producer for IGN.
Editor’s Note: The headline was adjusted for additional clarity.