Activision CEO Bobby Kotick Was Almost Fired Over Buyback From Vivendi

Vivendi said it would fire Kotick “happily. Tomorrow if you want.”

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Activision CEO Bobby Kotick was nearly fired last year during Activision’s multibillion dollar share buyback from parent company Vivendi, according to court filings.

In October 2013, Activision acquired approximately 429 million company shares from Vivendi for about $5.83 billion, and a separate investment group led by Kotick and Activision chairman Brian Kelly purchased 172 million shares from Vivendi for $2.34 billion.

Court filings obtained by Bloomberg reveal that Vivendi was ready to fire Kotick over his refusal to approve any sale of Vivendi’s shares that didn’t include his investment group.

“I really wonder who’s going to fire him,” Vivendi’s CEO at the time Jean-Francois Dubos asked in an email. “Myself, happily. Tomorrow if you want,” Vivendi’s then chief financial officer and Activision chairman replied.

Kotick and Kelly will have to face investor claims that their investment group, which also includes Chinese game publisher Tencent, wrongfully benefited from buying 25 percent of Vivendi’s Activision shares at the same discount offered to Activision.

"Activision’s board of directors supports the ongoing leadership of the company by Bobby Kotick and Brian Kelly, who are the most effective executives in the interactive entertainment industry,” Activision spokeswoman Maryanne Lataif told GameSpot in a statement. “The recent transaction restructuring the company’s ownership has received widespread market support."

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