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Activision Blizzard Hires Boeing General Counsel as Legal Chief

June 4, 2021, 12:09 AM

Activision Blizzard Inc. disclosed in a securities filing Thursday its hire of Boeing Co. general counsel Grant Dixton as its next chief legal officer.

Dixton, who also served as Boeing’s corporate secretary, was promoted by the aviation giant to its general counsel role last year.

At Activision he will succeed longtime legal chief Christopher Walther, who the Santa Monica, Calif.-based company said has chosen to retire as of June 14.

Walther didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment about his pending retirement, which comes after Activision hired a new chief financial officer in March. Boeing media representatives didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment about who is in line to succeed Dixton as the company’s general counsel.

Walther has spent nearly a dozen years in-house at the company. He currently owns a little more than $10 million in Activision stock, according to Bloomberg data.

Activision disclosed in a proxy statement filed in April that Walther received nearly $3.3 million in total compensation during 2020, about half of which was comprised of stock awards, down from the almost $5.2 million pay package he had in 2019.

Walther has sold off more than $4.1 million in Activision stock so far this year, according to securities filings. He also unloaded nearly $8.8 million in the video game holding company’s stock last year and about $1.6 million in 2019.

Activision announced in March its addition of Frances Townsend as executive vice president for corporate affairs, chief compliance officer, and company secretary.

Townsend, a former Baker Botts partner and Homeland Security adviser, joined Activision after spending more than 10 years in-house with billionaire Ronald Perelman’s holding company MacAndrews & Forbes Inc. She left that company in January after serving as its vice chairman and general counsel.

“Gaming is a global and increasingly complicated business,” Townsend told Bloomberg Law in an email at the time of her appointment at Activision. “Lawyers are an important part of our business because we are committed to protecting our players and intellectual property, as well as advocating, anticipating, and preparing for regulatory changes.”

At Boeing, Dixton reported to chief legal officer Brett Gerry, who took on the Chicago-based company’s top in-house legal position following the retirement of longtime legal chief J. Michael Luttig.

Luttig, a former federal appellate judge who was retained by the Coca-Cola Co. in January to be a special tax adviser to the soft drink giant and its board, was hired by Boeing to be its top lawyer in 2006.

During his time running the global aircraft manufacturer’s legal department, Luttig successfully recruited former U.S. Supreme Court clerks for in-house roles at Boeing, an unlikely career trajectory for the cream of Big Law’s litigation crop.

Luttig’s chosen hires even got their own nickname, “Luttigators,” a name that stuck for those that clerked for him on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit—he was once a candidate for a High Court seat—to those that joined him in-house.

Among those former Supreme Court clerks landing at Boeing were Dixton and Gerry. Gerry didn’t respond to a request for comment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Baxter in New York at bbaxter@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com;
John Hughes in Washington at jhughes@bloombergindustry.com

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