Boeing Chairman Backs Embattled CEO Dennis Muilenburg

Boeing Co.

BA 2.60%

Chief Executive

Dennis Muilenburg

won’t receive bonus compensation this year or stock grants until the 737 MAX is flying again, according to the plane maker’s chairman, who also said the company still had confidence in the embattled CEO.

Dave Calhoun,

Boeing’s newly installed chairman, said on CNBC Tuesday that Mr. Muilenburg called him on Saturday to suggest he forgo “any compensation for 2019 in the form of bonuses.”

That would cover short- and long-term bonus pay as well as equity grants, Mr. Calhoun said. Boeing wouldn’t provide Mr. Muilenburg with stock grants until the MAX is back in the air and flying safely, he added.

Boeing isn’t looking to claw back compensation from Mr. Muilenburg, who was stripped of his chairman role by the Boeing board, Mr. Calhoun said.

Mr. Muilenburg received $23.4 million in total compensation in 2018, including a $13.1 million incentive payment after the company beat targets for sales, profit and cash flow. That came months after the first crash in Indonesia in October 2018. Vested stock options pushed his payout to just over $30 million.

During a Wednesday House hearing, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg explains three key mistakes the company made. Photo: Reuters/Sarah Silbiger

Lawmakers questioned Mr. Muilenburg’s compensation during two, often bruising, congressional hearings last week, with some calling for his resignation.

The aerospace giant’s board has been under pressure after two crashes of Boeing 737 MAX jets forced the grounding of the global fleet. A slowdown in aircraft production has weighed on its financial performance, already costing Boeing more than $9 billion, with a mounting bill of compensation to customers, suppliers and families of the 346 passengers and crew that died in the two accidents.

From the vantage point of our board, Dennis [Muilenburg] has done everything right from the beginning

—Boeing Chairman Dave Calhoun

Mr. Muilenburg told a U.S. House panel on Oct. 30 that his compensation was a matter for the Boeing board to decide, repeatedly saying he hadn’t joined the company for the money. Mr. Muilenburg said he already expected no annual bonuses this year.

Mr. Calhoun also said in the CNBC interview that the Boeing board supports Mr. Muilenburg.

“From the vantage point of our board, Dennis has done everything right from the beginning,” Mr. Calhoun said. “Remember, Dennis didn’t create this problem, but from the beginning he knew that MCAS should and could be done better.”

The flight-control system known as MCAS has been implicated in both 737 MAX crashes.

Boeing has already told executives and salaried staff that there will be no annual incentive bonuses paid this year, with the company’s profits expected by analysts to fall to their lowest level in a decade.

Write to Andrew Tangel at [email protected] and Micah Maidenberg at [email protected]

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