By Adria Calatayud, Kim Richters and Mauro Orru
BARCELONA--European telecommunications groups Deutsche Telekom AG, Vodafone Group PLC and BT Group PLC have become the latest companies to pull out of this year's Mobile World Congress, due to be held in Barcelona later this month, due to concerns on the coronavirus outbreak.
Nokia Corp. and STMicroelectronics NV earlier on Wednesday said they wouldn't attend the event, joining a list of companies that have canceled their participation which includes U.S. internet giants Facebook Inc. and Amazon.com Inc., Japan's Sony Corp. and Ericsson AB of Sweden among others.
"Deutsche Telekom has decided not to participate in the MWC this year. This wasn't an easy decision for us. But the health of our employees and of everyone who is our guest at MWC comes first," the German company said Wednesday on Twitter.
Chief Executive Tim Hoettges added that because of the continuing spread of the coronavirus "large crowds of people pose a particular risk." He would "consider it irresponsible to take this risk," he said.
Vodafone said it has also withdrawn from the trade show after careful consideration, citing recent warnings from the World Health Organization.
"While the potential risk is hard to quantify accurately at this stage, we have taken this decision because we place the utmost importance in the safety and wellbeing of our employees, customers and partners," Vodafone said on Twitter.
A BT spokesperson said the U.K. company believed the most responsible decision was to withdraw its participation from the event to safeguard employees and customers.
France's Orange told Dow Jones Newswires it hasn't taken any final decision on its MWC participation. Spain's Telefonica SA didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
As of Sunday, GSMA--the industry association that organizes the event--intended to go ahead with the MWC with additional health and safety measures and reports in the local press indicated GSMA had decided to stick to its plans after an emergency meeting held Wednesday. GSMA didn't respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
Write to Adria Calatayud at firstname.lastname@example.org; Kim Richters at email@example.com and Mauro Orru at firstname.lastname@example.org