27 Feb 2019

Trump ally Haley nominated for Boeing directorship

1:57 pm on 27 February 2019

US aerospace manufacturer Boeing announced today it has nominated former US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley to join its board of directors at the company's annual shareholders meeting.

Nikki Haley, former United States ambassador to the United Nations.

Nikki Haley, former United States ambassador to the United Nations. Photo: Photo / AFP

If elected on April 30 by Boeing shareholders, the close ally of President Donald Trump 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.

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.

In a statement, chief executive officer Dennis 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 $US300,000, well above her salary as UN ambassador.

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 labour 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 plane-making executive, Pat Shanahan, was named deputy defense secretary and later acting defense secretary. The 31-year Boeing veteran has rescued himself, however, from matters relating to the aerospace company.

The US government has been weighing the purchase of an advanced version of the F-15 Boeing fighter. Last year, Boeing's defence side had a series of wins, including the US 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 $US2.4 billion over the life of the programs.

Dan Grazier, a defence analyst with the Project on Government Oversight, said Haley's nomination "seems a bit curious" given her lack of aerospace experience.

"The practice of government employees trading on their public service to secure high-paying positions at the top levels of government contracting firms has been long established and it sets up all kinds of potential conflicts of interest," Grazier said.

Boeing shares closed flat at $426.77 a share on the New York Stock Exchange.