By Eric M. Johnson and Mike Stone
SEATTLE/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. aerospace manufacturer Boeing (NYSE:) Co said on Tuesday it has nominated Nikki Haley, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and a close ally of President Donald Trump, to join its board of directors at the company’s annual shareholders meeting on April 29.
If elected by Boeing shareholders, she would help guide the future of America’s largest exporter, with a network of suppliers across the United States and the world, as Washington and Beijing have been locked in intense negotiations to end a trade war.
Haley’s nomination comes as Boeing grapples with a major decision: whether to launch an all-new jetliner known as NMA, a midsize plane that would serve a niche market falling between narrow- and wide-body aircraft.
The world’s largest planemaker has said it would make a final launch decision in 2020 on the new program, which is expected to define competition with archrival Airbus SE.
Viewed as a rising Republican Party star, Haley has often been mentioned as a future presidential candidate. Her counterparts at the United Nations saw her as a voice of clarity in the Trump administration.
Haley, 47, is the first female governor of South Carolina and a three-term legislator in the South Carolina House of Representatives. As governor in 2015, Haley was a key opponent of a campaign by Boeing’s largest labor union to form a collective bargaining unit at its 787 Dreamliner factory in South Carolina – though the machinists were later successful in forming a small bargaining unit there.
Boeing has faced growing scrutiny over its links to the Trump administration after a former senior planemaking executive, Pat Shanahan, was named deputy defense secretary and later acting defense secretary. The 31-year Boeing veteran has recused himself, however, from matters relating to the aerospace company.
The U.S. government has been weighing the purchase of an advanced version of the F-15 Boeing fighter. Last year, Boeing’s defense side had a series of wins, including the U.S. Air Force’s next training jet, which could be worth up to $9.2 billion, as well as a contract to replace UH-1N Huey helicopters worth $2.4 billion over the life of the programs.
In a press release, Muilenburg praised Haley’s record in government and industry partnership.
“Boeing will benefit greatly from her broad perspectives and combined diplomatic, government and business experience to help achieve our aspiration to be the best in aerospace and a global industrial champion,” Muilenburg said.
Based on total compensation for Boeing’s other 13 board members, Haley can expect to earn more than $300,000, well above her salary as U.N. ambassador.
Separately on Tuesday, the shareholders of Brazilian planemaker Embraer SA approved a deal to sell 80 percent of the Sao Paulo-based company’s commercial jet division to Boeing, a move that could reshape the global market for aircraft of up to 150 seats.
Boeing shares were flat at $427.88 a share in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
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