Convincing: Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg’s pleas appear to have won President Donald Trump’s support. Picture: REUTERS
Convincing: Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg’s pleas appear to have won President Donald Trump’s support. Picture: REUTERS

Chicago/Dallas/Washington — After a rocky start, Boeing CE Dennis Muilenburg appears to have gained the ear of President Donald Trump.

The US aircraft manufacturer was among Trump’s first post-election corporate targets, and a tweet about soaring Air Force One costs briefly tanked the firm’s shares in December.

But the Twitter tirade also gave Muilenburg an opening to press the case of the largest US exporter — and the 1.5-million jobs at its jet-equipment suppliers — in meetings with Trump.

The CE’s entreaties seem to have worked. Trump has emerged as a booster for Boeing’s F/A-18 fighter jets and voiced support to legislators for a key Boeing initiative: reopening the US Export-Import Bank for major deals.

Trump will attend an event at Boeing’s South Carolina factory on Friday showcasing the newest 787 Dreamliner where he is expected to make an announcement about the federal export credit agency.

"The supply chain for Boeing doesn’t just run through the state of Washington," said Howard Rubel, an analyst at Jefferies. The Ex-Im Bank is "a door opener".

Supporting the lender would put Trump at odds with some Republicans, who view the bank as providing corporate welfare.

Boeing Bank

Ex-Im has been dubbed the "Bank of Boeing" for the backing it has given to aircraft purchases by airlines unable to tap conventional credit markets. But it has been blocked from providing loan guarantees of more than $10m because it lacks a board member whose nomination has been stuck in a Senate committee since 2015.

Trump was committed to re-establishing a quorum on the bank’s board, US Senator Heidi Heitkamp said. That is needed to allow the bank to lend more as it faces a backlog of as much as $30bn in projects.

Boeing and General Electric have argued without the financing, they would face a competitive disadvantage against companies in Europe, Canada, Brazil, China and Russia, who do not face similar restrictions.

Boeing had lost or faced delays on three commercial satellite sales because of the lack of export credit, said Kate Bernard, a spokeswoman for the manufacturer.

Reuters

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