Reports: LG Pulls Out Of ISE, Citing Coronavirus Outbreak Worries

I can’t find an official statement specific to next week’s ISE trade show in Amsterdam, but there are multiple trade industry reports indicating Korean electronics giant LG has decided not to send staff to the show amidst worries about the risks of picking up the coronavirus.

Here’s a link to another report …

It makes sense that LG would do with ISE what it has already said it is doing with the Mobile World Congress, set for later this month in Barcelona. ISE comes first.

For MWC, LG said: “This decision eliminates 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. LG Electronics thanks its supporters and the public for their understanding in these difficult and challenging times.”

LG will be taking a financial bath on this – as its booth (always one of the biggest and best at ISE) is already going up, and there will no doubt be penalties for cancelling hotel rooms and flights. Its dedicated micro-site for ISE is up and makes no mention of changed plans.

LG has a pile of people who live and work far, far away from China, so it would have been pretty easy to staff the booth with sales and business development people who present utterly minimal risk of having the virus. Some Chinese exhibitors, like ROE, are using North American and EMEA staff for its stands, keeping its Chinese staffers home (or realizing scarce flights at the moment meant a Plan B was required).

I’m not going to criticize companies for being cautious, and perhaps an employment lawyer suggested knowingly putting staff into this environment could blow up on LG if one of those staffers picked up the virus while in Amsterdam. Beats me.

LG is one of my go-to stands at ISE each year, so I will absolutely miss that. Hopefully the company’s decision does not spark a series of similar decisions, or next week could turn into a day at the show and a few days sightseeing. 

For context, there are 18 confirmed cases, as of this morning, in South Korea. In Western Europe, there are 2 in the UK, 6 in France, 12 in Germany, 1 in Belgium and zero in the Netherlands.

The World Health Organization’s formal travel advice does not warn against travel, except in and out of China. 

Just yesterday …