Vivendi, Activision's controlling shareholder in 2013, wanted to fire CEO Bobby Kotick, as revealed in emails that are part of a lawsuit filed by Activision investors (via Bloomberg
). During negotiations for Activision to buy the majority
of its own shares back from Vivendi in 2013, Kotick refused any deal that excluded his own investment group, a stance that made Vivendi executives consider losing him entirely, the filing says.
One email from then-CEO of Vivendi, Jean-Francois Dubos, said, "I really wonder who's going to fire him." Philippe Capron, Vivendi CFO and Activision chairman, replied, "Myself, happily. Tomorrow if you want."
In a separate email, Capron said that he'd spoken with one of Activision's independent directors, Richard Sarnoff, who opposed the inclusion of Kotick's group in the sale. Capron wrote that Sarnoff approved of the deal without Kotick. "He will help us if we decide to fire Bobby," Capron said.
Kotick and Activision chairman Brian Kelly are facing a lawsuit from investors that claims they benefited from insider knowledge during Activision's purchase of its own shares from Vivendi. Kotick and Kelly contributed $100 million toward the purchase, and their partners, including Chinese game company Tencent
, threw down more than $1.62 billion, the recent filing said. The $8.2 billion sale was approved in October
, after the Delaware Supreme Court overturned a ruling
that halted it.
Investors are also suing Vivendi execs who acted as Activision directors during the sale, claiming they failed to protect minority shareholders' interests. The case is set to be heard on December 8 before Delaware Chancery Court Judge Travis Laster.