US senators ask the FTC to review Microsofts Activision Blizzard buyout

A group of four US senators has written a letter urging the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to review Microsoft’s purchase of Activision Blizzard, citing concerns of accountability.

As first reported by The Wall Street Journal (opens in new tab), the group of senators includes Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, and Sheldon Whitehouse. The lawmakers expressed in a letter to FTC chair Lina Khan concern that the deal might “exacerbate the flurry of sexual-abuse, harassment and retaliation allegations at Activision stemming from recent federal and state investigations.”

A California District Court judge approved Activision Blizzard’s $18 million misconduct settlement with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) earlier this week, officially resolving the EEOC’s lawsuit against Activision Blizzard. But the group of US senators worry the deal could undermine a growing movement calling for accountability at Activision Blizzard. Specifically, the letter mentions Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick, who would be allowed to keep his position consistent with the terms of Microsoft’s buyout.

“This lack of accountability, despite shareholders, employees, and the public calling for Kotick to be held responsible for the culture he created, would be an unacceptable result of the proposed Microsoft acquisition,” the letter reads.

An Activision Blizzard spokesperson issued its own statement responding to the letter from the US senators.

“The transaction between Microsoft and Activision Blizzard will not interrupt any of the actions the Activision Blizzard’s leadership team has implemented throughout 2021 and is continuing to implement in 2022 with regards to improving our workplace,” reads the statement, in part. “Microsoft is supportive of the goals and the work being done. This is a compelling transaction for all stakeholders, including employees”

Activision Blizzard goes on to note that Kotick has seen his salary reduced to the California minimum of $62,500 for 2022, and won’t see an increase until the Activision Blizzard board of director’s Workplace Responsibility Committee has determined “appropriate progress toward achievement of the transformational gender-related goals and other commitments described in such announcement.”

Read up on everything we know about the DFEH’s ongoing Activision Blizzard lawsuit.

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