Activision Blizzard settles U.S. SEC charges over handling of workplace complaints


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WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Activision Blizzard has agreed to pay $35 million to settle allegations over the video game maker's handling of workplace complaints and violations of whistleblower protection rules, U.S. financial regulators said on Friday.

The Securities and Exchange Commission said the company knew employee retention issues were "a particularly important risk in its business" but did not have adequate measures in place to manage workplace misconduct complaints between 2018 and 2021.

The company, which makes the popular "Call of Duty" game, also required employees between 2016 and 2021 to tell the company if the SEC contacted them for information -- a violation of whistleblower protection rules, the agency said in a statement.

"Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI) failed to implement necessary controls to collect and review employee complaints about workplace misconduct, which left it without the means to determine whether larger issues existed that needed to be disclosed to investors,” said Jason Burt, who heads the SEC's Denver office, said in a statement.

Representatives for the Santa Monica, California-based video game developer and publishing company, in a statement, said they were "pleased to have amicably resolved this matter" and had "enhanced" their workplace reporting and contract language.

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), which makes Xbox, had made a $69 billion bid to acquire Activision Blizzard, but the Federal Trade Commission asked a judge in December to block the transaction. EU authorities as also examiningthe deal.

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