LG pulls out of MWC amid coronavirus fears

The move is intended to protect employees from having to travel internationally

LG has withdrawn from this month’s upcoming Mobile World Congress (MWC) – hosted by GSMA – to protect its employees from the coronavirus outbreak. 

“The decision removes the risk of exposing hundreds of LG employees to international travel which has already become more restrictive as the virus continues to spread across borders,” said the company in a statement. 

Chinese mobile device and networking equipment manufacturer ZTE was also rumoured to be absent from the conference; the company has since confirmed, however, that it plans to attend. 

The MWC will go on despite LG’s exit from the event. GSMA plans to enact several infection control measures for the conference, which include increasing onsite medical support, providing heightened disinfection programmes for high-volume touchpoints, and relaying public health advice and guidelines to all participating members. 

GSMA further expanded upon its initial proposal yesterday to include a ‘no handshake’ policy, which will be enforced throughout the event. 

Although LG’s exit from the MWC indicates ballooning international concern, the coronavirus’ impact has already disrupted major supply chain production across China, where the outbreak started. Factory closures that began at Chinese New Year have been extended to 10 February in order to try and halt the spread of the virus. 

The chance for a timely reopening diminishes as the death toll continues to rise, with municipal lockdowns hampering the transportation of people and supplies throughout the country. Primary iPhone supplier and Apple partner Hon Hai Precision Industry recently cut its original 2020 revenue growth outlook from a 3-5% range to 1-3% in response factory closures. 

“Hon Hai’s lower 2020 sales growth outlook likely reflects the severity of disruption to its operations from the coronavirus outbreak,” noted Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Matthew Kanterman. “The NT $111 billion reduction in sales at the midpoint of the range vs. the prior midpoint is equivalent to one week of revenue, accounting for the extended factory shutdown imposed by the Chinese government.”

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