Activision Blizzard delays say-on-pay vote, calls criticism of CEO bonuses 'misleading'

Activision Blizzard has delayed the advisory vote on a say-on-pay proposal regarding executive compensation to give shareholders more time to mull over the decision.

Activision Blizzard has delayed the advisory vote on a say-on-pay proposal regarding executive compensation to give shareholders more time to mull over the decision.

The Call of Duty publisher explained it wanted to give shareholders more time to review its responses to a number of recently published statements -- which Activision "believed to be misleading" --  that indicated its proposed executive compensation practices would render some top-level paycuts moot.

For instance, investment group CtW recently spoke out against the terms of Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick's contract extension, arguing that some unaddressed provisions and bonuses would more than make up for any pay sacrificed as part of Kotick's recent 50 percent salary reduction. 

Although Kotick's salary has been reduced significantly in recent years, his contract still includes bonuses of up to 200 percent if certain targets are met. CtW suggested that such incentives "essentially render the new equity compensation reductions moot." 

Activision itself has refuted those claims. In a press release, the publisher suggested that "meaningful executive compensation changes have been made to address shareholder concerns directly, including an amended and extended contract for our CEO."

It reiterated that it has made "substantial and sustainable reductions in CEO compensation," including decreasing Kotick's base salary and cash bonuses by 50 percent and ensuring that 95 percent of his total compensation is performance based and "fully at risk."

As such, the publisher is recommending shareholders vote for the proposal during a Reconvened Annual Meeting on June 21, 2021.

"The independent members of the Activision Blizzard Board have determined, based on requests from shareholders, that it is necessary and appropriate to leave voting for the Proposal open in order to provide shareholders with adequate time to review and consider the Company’s recent responses to statements that were published and recirculated about the Company’s executive compensation practices that the Company believed to be misleading, in particular related to CEO and COO compensation," added the company.

"The Board members believe that obtaining informed shareholder feedback related to Activision Blizzard’s compensation policies and practices is of fundamental importance, and therefore, allowing additional time for shareholders to meaningfully participate in the vote better represents their interests."

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