Activision CEO reaps $20.2 million in three-day stock sale

Modern Warfare 2 launch window sees Bobby Kotick exercise nearly 2 million stock options for $1.99 million--which he immediately sells for $22.2 million.


Today, Activision basked in the glory that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 had the biggest launch in entertainment history. November 10 saw the Infinity Ward-developed shooter sell a staggering 4.7 million copies in the US, UK, and Canada, generating $310 million in just 24 hours. Dollar-wise, that's as much as Grand Theft Auto did worldwide on day one in 2008, and as much as Halo 3 reaped in its first week globally in 2007.

Bobby Kotick just got paid.
Bobby Kotick just got paid.

Unsurprisingly, nobody basked more in Modern Warfare 2's success than Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick. According to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing made today, the outspoken executive used the occasion to exercise nearly 2 million stock options that had vested in 2000--eight years before Activision merged with Vivendi Games to form Activision Blizzard. Kotick took over Activision in 1991, shortly before it filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Given that at the turn of the century Activision was nowhere near being the world's largest third-party publisher, the strike price for each share Kotick exercised was a low $1.03. With the new company flying high on last week's better-than-expected July-September earnings report, Kotick reaped an impressive windfall by selling nearly 2 million shares at prices between $11.43 and $11.51 per share from November 9 to November 11.

The result? Minus the nearly $2 million strike price, the executive cleared nearly $20.2 million in just three days. The figure comes atop his normal compensation package, which totaled $14.95 million in 2008, according to Forbes magazine. Following the sale, Kotick still retained 3,109,729 shares of Activision Blizzard, which ended trading today at $11.44--making said shares worth $35,575,300.

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