Bernie Sanders and other senators are raising concerns about Xbox’s Activision Blizzard deal

Bernie Sanders and three other U.S. senators have expressed concern over Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard.

“We are deeply concerned about the consolidation of the technology industry and its impact on workers,” Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker and Sheldon Whitehouse wrote, according to the Wall Street Journal.

According to a letter sent to the FTC (as you can see in the tweet below), senators are concerned that the acquisition could cause issues experienced by Activision Blizzard employees to be forgotten or made more difficult to resolve.

“After many years of widespread sexual misconduct and discrimination and unfair work practices, employees at Activision Blizzard have called for greater transparency and accountability in the gaming industry, and we are deeply concerned that this acquisition could further deprive these workers of the right to vote and prevent them from voting. be heard, “reads the senators’ letter.

“As this proposed agreement moves forward in the review process, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) should assess whether the ways in which these companies have failed to protect the rights and dignity of their workers are driven by monopoly power or constitute anti-competitive harm in our labor market. , and if so, the merger will exacerbate these problems. “

Activision Blizzard has been the subject of numerous allegations of sexual harassment and a ‘frat boy culture’.

The company recently settled one of several ongoing lawsuits and set up a $ 18 million fund to compensate eligible plaintiffs, as well as to continue to improve policies, practices and training to prevent harassment and discrimination in the workplace, so as not to mention engaging a third party equal employment counselor approved by the EEOC.

A spokesman for Activision Blizzard issued the following statement regarding the senators’ letter to Windows Central:

“The company is committed to a safe and fair working environment for all employees and has invested significant resources to ensure that we create a model for the industry. The transaction between Microsoft and Activision Blizzard will not interrupt any of the actions taken by Activision Blizzard’s management team. has implemented throughout 2021 and will continue to implement in 2022 to improve our workplace.Activision Blizzard’s management team has discussed the company’s goals in depth with Microsoft, and Microsoft has reviewed the renewed cultural commitment and actions Activision Blizzard has taken so far, and the efforts they have made. Microsoft supports the goals and the work that is being done. This is a compelling transaction for all stakeholders, including employees. “

Senators are also reportedly concerned that Activision Blizzard’s CEO Bobby Kotick could evade responsibility after the ongoing scandal and could be entitled to a massive payout if he improves the company’s culture in the wake of these allegations.

“This lack of accountability, despite shareholders, employees and the public’s call for Kotick to be held accountable for the culture he created, would be an unacceptable result of the proposed Microsoft acquisition.”

It has been reported that Kotick will leave the company once the Microsoft acquisition is completed.

“No further special compensation arrangements were entered into for Mr. Kotick in connection with the transaction,” Activision Blizzard confirmed. Mr Kotick’s base salary has been reduced to California’s minimum annual salary (which is approximately $ 62,500 for 2022) and he will not be awarded any bonuses or equity grants until the Workplace Responsibility Committee of Activision Blizzard’s board has determined that Activision Blizzard has made appropriate progress towards achieving the transformative gender objectives and other commitments set out in such a Communication. “

Microsoft plans to pay $ 68.7 billion to acquire Activision Blizzard, and while major mergers are under FTC scrutiny due to antitrust concerns, this further study by U.S. senators is a bit of a fly in the ointment.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella believes the acquisition will still be approved: “Even after this acquisition, we will be number three with a kind of low teenagers [market] share, where even the highest player is also [in the] teenagers [for market] share. It shows how fragmented content creation platforms are. So that’s the basic category. Yes, we want to be a big player in a very fragmented place. ”

To find out more about the Activision Blizzard lawsuit, check out our timeline of everything that has happened so far.

Ryan Leston is an entertainment journalist and film critic for IGN. You can follow him further Twitter.

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