Activision-Blizzard submits useless Microsoft buyout FAQ for employees

Same old story.

We sure hope you’re not tired of hearing about Activision-Blizzard and its labor messes, discrimination and harassment scandal, and pending sale to Microsoft – because there’s always more.

First, yesterday the company dropped a few documents on the SEC website, including a required filing that lightly touches on what the buyout will mean for employees.

“Until transaction close, which we expect to be in Microsoft’s fiscal year ending June 2023, it remains business as usual and both companies will continue to operate independently. Following closing we do not anticipate a lot of changes in jobs,” Activision-Blizzard reiterates. While it does not expressly say there will not be layoffs or relocations, it does say that “Microsoft has made it clear that they want to preserve and grow the value that Activision Blizzard brings, and that includes the talented team at Activision Blizzard.”

Activision-Blizzard also states that it does “not anticipate that this news will affect the rollout of Activision Blizzard’s current pipeline or existing games,” so don’t get your hopes up about playing Diablo IV or Overwatch 2 any sooner. The company also cannot confirm its independence in a post-Microsoft-sale world, though it points to Microsoft’s handling of Mojang and ZeniMax, two companies not deeply beclowned by their own scandals, as a model template.

In a separate filing, Activision-Blizzard declared to the SEC that there is no strike and no attempts to form a union: “To the knowledge of the company, there are no pending activities or proceedings of any labor union, trade union, works council or any similar labor organization to organize any employees of the company or any of its Subsidiaries with regard to their employment with the company or any of its subsidiaries.”

At first blush, you might think this is wild news to the strikers, the organizers of A Better ABK, their union backers at CODE-CWA, the people who’ve walked out multiple times, their colleagues, the executives conducting overt union-busting, the attorneys currently investigating the company for retaliation, the Blizzard reps who insist they’re listening to strikers (but actually aren’t), and everyone who’s covered and read about the strike since before Christmas. But according to Hoeg Law’s Richard Hoeg, this verbiage is standard and will be subject to separate exceptions and disclosures.

The same is apparently true for Activision-Blizzard’s claim that “there are no legal proceedings pending or, to the knowledge of the company, threatened against the company or any of its subsidiaries or against any present or former officer or director of the company or any of its subsidiaries in such individual’s capacity as such that would have a company material adverse effect.” There are still multiple lawsuits still pending against the company, as well as a federal investigation into why Activision-Blizzard failed to disclose them the first time. But as Hoeg explains, “Each [of these statements] will be subject to a disclosure schedule (here labeled the ‘Company Disclosure Letter’) that will serve as an exception to the representation. This is 100% standard M&A procedure.”

In other words, get mad, but not about a legal filing.

Source: SEC, Axios, Hoeg. Cheers, Wilhelm.
Activision-Blizzard is considered a controversial gaming company owing to a long string of scandals over the last few years, including the Blitzchung boycott, mass layoffs, labor disputes, and executive pay fiasco. In 2021, the company was sued by California for fostering a work environment rife with sexual harassment and discrimination, the disastrous corporate response to which compounded Blizzard’s ongoing pipeline issues and the widespread perception that its online games are in decline. Multiple state and federal agencies are investigating the company as employees strike and call for Bobby Kotick’s resignation. As of 2022, the company is being acquired by no less than Microsoft.
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