Investigators have begun looking into a meeting between the CEO of Activision Blizzard and the step-son of a billionaire just days before the man, his father and another wealthy associate made millions off shares when the company was bought out by Microsoft for $68.7 billion.
The US Department of Justice is investigating whether Activision CEO Bobby Kotick and Alexander von Furstenberg violated insider-trading laws when they met for breakfast in January ahead of Furstenberg’s decision to buy shares of the company with his father, IAC Chairman Barry Diller, and fellow media mogul David Geffen, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The three men bought shares at $40 each on January 14, days before Microsoft acquired Activision Blizzard for $95 a share – netting the three men $59 million in profit.
Diller refuted the allegations, telling the WSJ that he and his associates knew nothing about the impending deal with Microsoft.
‘We had zero knowledge of that transaction and it belies credulity to think that if we did we would have proceeded,’ Diller said.
‘It’s equally unlikely to believe Mr. Kotick, a sophisticated professional, in a social breakfast with Mr. von Furstenberg and his wife would have told them of the pending transaction.’
Federal investigators are looking into a meeting Activision CEO Bobby Kotick (pictured) had with Alexander von Furstenberg days before Furstenberg decided to buy up stocks
von Furstenberg (left) purchased the stocks along with his father, IAC Chairman Barry Diller (right) and fellow media mogul David Geffen at $40 a share on January 14
Geffen (above), Furstenberg and Diller profited $59 million after Microsoft acquired Blizzard Activision days later for $68.7 billion
Diller has served on the board of Coca-Cola with Kotick, whom he described as a ‘long time friend.’
Diller already has a net worth of $4.5 billion, while Geffen is worth about $10.3 billion and von Furstenburg is worth about $10.1 million.
A spokesperson for Activision said that Kotick was simply enjoying a social brunch with his friends on the day he met with Furstenberg.
‘He, of course, didn’t share any information with them regarding a possible transaction with Microsoft,’ the spokesperson said in a statement.
Furstenberg and Geffen did not immediately respond to DailyMail.com’s request for comment.
The three men are also under investigations for alleged insider trading by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
The SEC is also conducting a separate investigation on Kotick and other Activision heads on how they handled workplace misconduct allegations that plagued the company during its final year before being bought by Microsoft.
Diller (pictured) has served on the board of Coca-Cola with Activision Chief Executive Bobby Kotick, whom he described as a ‘long time friend.’ He refutes that he had any inside knowledge on Microsoft’s impeding purchase of Activision Blizzard when he made his purchase
In September, the federal Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) launched a probe into the company and two months later, Kotick, accused of mishandling the harassment complaints, had reported he would consider stepping down if he failed to quickly fix the company culture.
He has led the company for more than three decades.
The video game giant announced earlier this year that it had fired 37 employees and disciplined more than 40 others since July 2021 as it deals with allegations of sexual harassment and other misconduct.
Last July, California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing sued the Fortune 500 company over what it called a ‘frat boy’ culture.
The agency says women make up just 20 percent of the workforce and get less money, fewer promotions, are fired more often and suffer from ‘constant sexual harassment.’
‘Male employees proudly come into work hungover, play video games for long periods of time during work while delegating their responsibilities to female employees, engage in banter about their sexual encounters, talk openly about female bodies, and joke about rape,’ the lawsuit states .
The suit names Blizzard President J. Allen Brack, who stepped down in August, and longtime World of Warcraft developer Alex Afrasiabi, who quietly left the company last year.
The video game giant has been under the SEC’s gaze for nearly a year following bombshell reports of the company’s toxic workplace environment with hundreds of allegations of harassment and discrimination
It alleges that Afrasiabi had a so-called ‘Cosby Suite’ at a hotel during corporate events.
‘During a company event (an annual convention called Blizz Con [sic]) Afrasiabi would hit on female employees, telling him [sic] he wanted to marry them, attempting to kiss them, and putting his arms around them,’ the complaint reads.
‘This was in plain view of other male employees, including supervisors, who had to intervene and pull him off female employees. Afrasiabi was so known to engage in harassment of females that his suite was nicknamed the ”Crosby Suite” [sic] after alleged rapist Bill Crosby [sic].’
Activision Blizzard had agreed to pay $18 million to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to settle a sexual harassment investigation.
Over the past year, the company has received about 700 reports of employee concerns over sexual assault or harassment or other misconduct, in some cases separate reports about the same incident, the WSJ reported.
Nearly 20 percent of Activision Blizzard’s 9,500 employees have signed a petition calling for Kotick to resign.