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SOC Investment Group Joins Demand to Remove Bobby Kotick from Coca-Cola Board of Directors
09/12/2021 à 12:45
The SOC Investment Group has
written a letter
demanding that Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick be removed from the Coca-Cola Company board of directors. Addressed to Coca-Cola Lead Independent Director Maria Lagomasino, the letter urges the beverage corporation not to renominate Bobby Kotick for re-election to the board in 2022, labeling him as responsible for the longstanding issues at Activision Blizzard, and threatening to oppose the nomination of other board members if Kotick is not removed.
SOC Investment Group
Given these grave allegations, which include specific instances in which Mr. Kotick learned of abusive behavior by Activision executives but nevertheless sought to retain those executives or weaken the disciplinary action they faced, we think it is obvious that Mr. Kotick is not a suitable individual to serve on the Coca-Cola Company (“Coca-Cola”) board of directors. Moreover, the time and attention that Mr. Kotick will need to devote to the cultural crisis at Activision ought to preclude his ability to effectively serve as a director of a major global brand. To be as clear as possible, should you and the board nominate Mr. Kotick for election at next year’s annual meeting, we will feel compelled to oppose not only his re-election, but that of yourself and other directors.
If this sounds familiar, that's because it's very similar to a letter written by the
National Legal and Policy Center
(NLPC) just over a week ago, which also demanded that Bobby Kotick be removed from Coke's board of directors. Citing a now very familiar
article by the Wall Street Journal
, pieces of the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing's
, and Jen Oneal's revelation that she was
paid less than co-lead Mike Ybarra
, it did not threaten the position of other board members, but called the Coca-Cola Company's previous political statements hypocritical and that this was "an opportunity to do the right thing."
Like the SOC Investment Groups other letters and shareholder proposals though, these declarations carry very little weight on their own. The SOC Investment Group also called for Bobby Kotick, Brian Kelly, and Robert Morgado to
resign from Activision Blizzard's board of directors
last month, just three months after writing a
petition to the same Lead Independent Director Robert Morgado
for a company-wide equity review, and those are just two of
public condemnations made by the group over the last year. Though perhaps not for good reason, it should be clear that the group has targeted Kotick since long before Activision Blizzard's legal troubles began, and not seeming to get anywhere by petitioning Activision, they are now targeting him in other areas as well.
As has been reported before, these groups are very minor shareholders, which give them a platform to make proposals, but very little power to execute them. The SOC Investment Group claims to represent approximately
of Activision Blizzard stock, while the National Legal and Policy Center was last reported to hold less than
of Coca-Cola's 4.32 billion shares. Rather than affect change on their own, however, their real objective of these declarations is to rally other investors and agencies to their cause - evidenced this last week as
six state treasurers
raised concern against Activision Blizzard's ability to institute change and regain public trust. Even CEO Bobby Kotick's
can be in part attributed to the souring of public opinion
generated by the group's criticisms
In that light, it's hard to say how much effect this lobbying against Coca-Cola will have. Although Bobby Kotick has been a
Director of The Coca-Cola Company
since 2012, he does not hold a principal position the way he does at Activision Blizzard, and while Activision's board of directors were quick to make a
public statement of support
for their CEO, Coca-Cola has yet to make any public acknowledgement or response to these demands. Aside from the fact that ultimatums rarely work, it's also very possible that the turmoil within Activision Blizzard simply may not big enough to concern the gigantic beverage corporation, whose
$10 billion revenue
is nearly five times
that of ATVI
this past quarter.
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