Content warning: this article contains references to sexual harassment, suicide, and abusive behaviour
New York City filed a suit against Activision Blizzard on May 2, stating its acquisition by Microsoft undervalues the company and as a means for CEO Bobby Kotick to escape liability.
As reported by Axios, which was given a public version of the suit on May 3, New York City is demand access to “certain corporate book and records” that may exhibit wrongdoing in connection with Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard.
Specifically, the suit seeks access to documents “in connection with the Board’s failure to maintain a safe and non-discriminatory working environment for its (specifically minority and female) employees”.
Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick is explicitly named within the suit, which stated: “With the announced merger, Kotick will be able to escape liability and accountability entirely, and will instead continue to serve as an executive after the merger closes.
“Given Kotick’s personal responsibility and liability for Activision’s broken workplace, it should have been clear to the Board that he was unfit to negotiate a sale of the company.”
The suit also claims that the agreed price of Activision Blizzard’s acquisition, $95 per share, “appears to seriously undervalue Activision Blizzard, as it represents a mere one per cent premium over Activision’s stock price before the Company was sued by the California Department of Fair Housing” in 2021.
The suit was fired by the New York City Employee’s Retirement System and associated pension funds for its fire and police departments, teachers, and board of education – groups which own Activision stock.
On the heels of the acquisition
Activision Blizzard has been unable to shake the impact of accusations of discrimination and sexual harassment, abuse, and assault, despite reaching an $18 million settlement with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The company continues to face numerous accusations and lawsuits, including one suit alleging working conditions led to the suicide of one employee.
It remains to be seen how Activision Blizzard's ongoing legal issues will impact Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard, as well as audience reception on its forthcoming release lineup, which includes Diablo Immortal and the recently-revealed Warcraft Arclight Rumble.