Boeing nominates former UN ambassador Nikki Haley to join its board

If elected, Haley (above) would help guide the future of America’s largest exporter.
If elected, Haley (above) would help guide the future of America’s largest exporter.PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - US aerospace manufacturer Boeing said on Tuesday (Feb 26) it has nominated Nikki Haley, former US ambassador to the United Nations and 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 programme, 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 long held close ties to the US government. Current chief executive Dennis Muilenburg serves on the US Export Council, and acting US Defence Secretary Pat Shanahan is a former senior Boeing executive, who spent 31 years with the company.

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 US$300,000 (S$400,000), well above her salary as UN ambassador.

Separately on Tuesday, the shareholders of Brazilian planemaker Embraer SA approved a deal to sell 80 per cent 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 US$426.87 a share in midday trading on the New York Stock Exchange.