Former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley leaves Boeing board, opposing federal aid

(Reuters) - Former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley has resigned from Boeing Co’s board after opposing its bid for government financial assistance due to the crisis caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks during a meeting of the United Nations Security Council about the situation in Crimea at U.N. Headquarters in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., November 26, 2018. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

“I cannot support a move to lean on the federal government for a stimulus or bailout that prioritizes our company over others and relies on taxpayers to guarantee our financial position,” Haley said in a letter to the company’s management released by Boeing on Thursday.

“I have long held strong convictions that this is not the role of government.”

Haley, a former South Carolina governor, has often been mentioned as a future presidential candidate. “The board and executive team are going in a direction I cannot support,” she wrote.

When asked to respond to Haley’s concerns, Boeing said only the company appreciated her service on the board and wished her well.

Boeing this week said it was seeking on behalf of itself and the aviation manufacturing industry at least $60 billion in government loan guarantees and other assistance. The sector faces huge losses from the coronavirus pandemic as airlines halt flights and some delay orders.

A Senate Republican proposal introduced Thursday would allow aviation manufacturing firms like Boeing to seek collateralized loans and loan guarantees from a $150 billion fund but not provide any cash. The final decision on eligibility would be up to the U.S. Treasury.

“We are not bailing out the airlines or other industries – period,” said Senator Richard Shelby, a Republican who chairs the Appropriations Committee.

To ensure the government is compensated for risks in making loans, the U.S. Treasury could seek equity, warrants stock or other instruments to ensure the government participates in any gains.

Haley’s resignation letter was dated Monday, the same day Boeing confirmed it was in talks to seek short-term assistance from the U.S. government.

Boeing has racked up nearly $19 billion in costs tied to its 737 MAX aircraft, which has been grounded for the past year after two fatal crashes in five months. The company has been working to win approval for the plane to return to service.

Reporting by Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru and David Shepardson in Washington and Michelle Nichols in New York; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Tom Brown