New lawsuit against Activision Blizzard accuses Bobby Kotick of using Microsoft sale to escape liability for misconduct allegations
The action, as described by attorney Richard Hoeg, is simply a "books and records request," meaning the plaintiff is requesting access to a list of documents from Activision Blizzard, including information on the five other potential buyers it has mentioned in the past, board memos and information regarding the Microsoft deal.
The suit also mentions the purchase of $108 million worth of Activision Blizzard stock by three associates of Kotick days before the merger was announced. The trio are estimated to have made $60 million in profit, and the sale is currently being investigated as a possible case of insider trading by both the U.S. Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission, according to the Wall Street Journal. One of the three investors, Fox co-founder Barry Diller, has said the timing of the investment was just "one of those coincidences" and insists that the three of them "acted on no information of any kind from anyone."
Despite these concerns, 98% of Activision Blizzard shareholders voted to approve the merger with Microsoft in a vote on April 28. However, the deal is far from done. An unnamed source told Bloomberg in February that the Federal Trade Commission will be handling the antitrust review for the merger. FTC chair Lina Khan has been vocally critical of big tech company mergers in the past, to the point that Amazon has requested she be recused of investigations into the company.
There's plenty of action to back up her words, too. She, along with Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust Jonathan Kanter of the Department of Justice, is also in the process of rewriting the merger guidelines "to better detect and prevent illegal, anticompetitive deals in today's modern markets." The FTC recently sued to block the acquisition of Arm by Nvidia, which was largely responsible for ending that deal, and are also reportedly currently in the process of investigating Sony's acquisition of Bungie.