GSMA plays down compensation for MWC cancellation

BARCELONA (Reuters) – Companies that have spent money on the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona that has been cancelled after mass withdrawals due to the coronavirus outbreak cannot expect compensation under the organisers’ standard insurance, they said on Thursday.

The GSMA telecoms body cancelled the Feb. 24-27 event on Wednesday despite assurances from local and national health officials that it would have been safe to hold it.

The GSMA takes out standard insurance cover on behalf of exhibitors. This does not cover the spread of communicable diseases unless health authorities issue travel restrictions, according to the event’s website.

“This is a force majeure situation,” GSMA Director General Mats Granryd told a news conference in the Spanish city, whose economy usually enjoys a $500 million boost from the event.

“We don’t comment on insurance policies but clearly there is no way you can insure yourself out of a force majeure situation,” he added.

Companies invoke force majeure when they cannot meet contractual expectations because of circumstances beyond their control.

Anchor European members of the GSMA, including Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone, BT and Nokia all pulled out of the event in recent days, forcing the GSMA’s hand to cancel it.

The GSMA is a non-profit organisation.

(Reporting by Jordi Rubio and May Ponzo in Barcelona and Jose Elias Rodriguez in Madrid; writing by Isla Binnie; editing by Mark Potter)

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