Just over half of Activision Blizzard shareholders have backed CEO Bobby Kotick’s $155 million pay package, following a delayed vote described by critics as an attempt to avoid an embarrassing reprimand.
After holding its scheduled annual meeting on June 14, the video game company had adjourned the meeting until Monday to address “misleading” information about Kotick’s 2020 salary. The postponement was criticized by the Council of Institutional Investors, which represents major pension funds.
“With only 54 percent of the votes cast, the proposal received almost no majority support — it appears that Activision has turned just enough for the measure to pass,” said Michael Varner, director of executive pay research at CtW Investment Group.
The company faced only weak support for the wage vote after proxy advisors Institutional Shareholder Services and Glass Lewis recommended investors vote against.
“The additional time shareholders requested allowed them to thoroughly review the facts about Activision Blizzard’s rigorous compensation practices,” a company spokeswoman said in a statement.
The company changed Kotick’s compensation after shareholder feedback – its 2019 compensation package received support from 58 percent of shareholders. Activision cut Kotick’s salary for 2021 by 50 percent to $875,000 and limited bonuses for 2021 and 2022.
The bulk of Kotick’s $155 million package for 2020 was linked in prices to a 2016 target to double the company’s market cap, and its shares skyrocketed last year during the coronavirus pandemic. Strong stock performance typically appeases investors over executive pay, but Kotick’s large pay raised concerns.
Activision came under pressure from CtW, which called on other shareholders to reject the company’s compensation.
Glass Lewis said there was no precedent for such a move to postpone a say-on-pay vote.
Investors typically pay votes from companies with at least 90 percent support. According to Semler Brossy, a payroll consultancy, S&P 500 companies have received 88.6 percent support for executive pay so far this year.