The Swiss engineering company ABB has temporarily stopped production in China due to the coronavirus epidemic. The country is the group's second largest single market and accounted for 15% of revenues in 2019, or the equivalent of approximately $4 billion (CHF3.9 billion).
"Since the beginning of the week, all plants in China have been closed," explained chairman and CEO Peter Voser on Wednesday. He was speaking on a conference call to share the results of the last quarter of 2019.
"We want to restart capacity as quickly as possible and as normally as possible," he added.
ABB has taken various measures to protect its employees. Travel restrictions are in place, although no repatriation of foreign personnel is planned for the time being.
Voser estimated the number of employees in the Wuhan region of Hubei province, where the outbreak originated, to be around 100.
He said it was too early to quantify the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the firm’s 2020 results.
"Let's not speculate," he cautioned.
The Chinese Lunar New Year holiday period is traditionally quiet anyway, with many employees on holiday, he noted. This is the week when production should have resumed at full capacity.