Activision Blizzard Names New CFO as Poaching Suit Against Netflix Continues

Activision Blizzard Inc.

named a new finance chief, a move that comes as the company’s lawsuit against

Netflix Inc.

for allegedly poaching its former chief financial officer continues.

Santa Monica, Calif.-based Activision Blizzard, which is known for videogame franchises Call of Duty and World of Warcraft, said Monday it has promoted Armin Zerza to the role of CFO. Mr. Zerza, currently the company’s chief commercial officer and the chief operating officer of Blizzard Entertainment, will start in the new role in the second quarter after current finance chief

Dennis Durkin

retires.

Mr. Durkin, the company’s CFO between 2012 and 2017, took over its finances again in January 2019 after then-finance chief

Spencer Neumann

left to join Netflix.

According to Activision Blizzard, Mr. Neumann was illegally recruited by Netflix in late 2018, prompting a contract breach that disrupted its business operations. The company sued Netflix late last year, stating the hire cost it business opportunities as well as millions of dollars paid out to hold on to other executives.

Mr. Neumann, who previously held roles at the

Walt Disney Co.

and private-equity firms, joined Activision Blizzard as its finance chief in May 2017. The employment contract initially stated a three-year term. Activision Blizzard’s lawsuit against Netflix is ongoing, the company’s attorney, Daniel Petrocelli, confirmed. Netflix didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Activision Blizzard at the time said that it was putting Mr. Neumann on paid leave and that he would subsequently be fired for cause unrelated to the company’s financial reporting or disclosure procedures. The company asked Mr. Durkin to return as CFO.

“Two years ago, in a very difficult situation, Dennis stepped in again as our CFO, and his efforts and focus helped the company return to growth and established the momentum we now have,” Chief Executive

Bobby Kotick

said.

Mr. Zerza, who joined the company in 2015 to head up the finances of the Blizzard Entertainment business, brings financial and operational know-how, making him well-suited for the CFO role, Mr. Kotick said. Mr. Zerza previously worked at consumer-goods giant

Procter & Gamble Co.

for about 20 years in different positions, Activision Blizzard said.

“When I recruited Armin to become CFO of Blizzard six years ago, I expected him to one day become the CFO of the entire company,” said

Thomas Tippl,

Activision Blizzard’s vice chairman.

The company, which is slated to report first-quarter results on May 4, didn’t immediately respond to a request for additional comment.

Write to Nina Trentmann at [email protected]

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