Activision's mobile gaming unit to see leadership changes ahead of Microsoft deal


FILE PHOTO: The Activision booth is shown at the E3 2017 Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, California, U.S. June 13, 2017. REUTERS/ Mike Blake

(Reuters) - Video game maker Activision Blizzard Inc's mobile gaming unit, King, said on Wednesday two of its senior executives, including a co-founder, would leave the company before its deal with Microsoft Corp.

In January, Microsoft said it was buying the "Call of Duty" maker for $68.7 billion in the biggest gaming industry deal in history as global technology giants stake their claims to a virtual future.

Sebastian Knutsson, one of the founders of King, is stepping down from his role as chief creative officer, the "Candy Crush" maker said https://bit.ly/3H8V6sZ.

President Humam Sakhnini, who worked for six years at King and 12 years at Activision Blizzard, is also stepping down from his role, with Tjodolf Sommestad replacing him. According to the company, Sakhnini is stepping down to return to the United States.

This executive shakeup comes at a time when Activision is already facing a lawsuit from California regulators alleging the company "fostered a sexist culture".

Activision has also been the subject of investigative stories detailing allegations of sexual harassment internally, and its employees have staged walkouts to protest the company's response to the issues.

During its fourth-quarter earnings announcement, Activision said King's in-game net bookings grew 14% year-over-year, driven by 20% growth in its largest franchise, "Candy Crush".

(Reporting by Tiyashi Datta in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)

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