Boeing CEO says 'fully supportive' of board's move to split jobs: memo

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By Eric M. Johnson

SEATTLE (Reuters) – Boeing Co (N:) Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg told employees he was “fully supportive” of the board’s decision to split his chairman and CEO roles, allowing him to focus on running the world’s largest planemaker, according to a memo seen by Reuters on Wednesday.

A Boeing spokesman did not provide an immediate comment.

Muilenburg said the “division of labor” was the latest action taken by the board and senior company leaders to “strengthen Boeing’s governance and safety management processes” as it struggles to get its fastest-selling 737 MAX jetliner back into the air following deadly crashes.

“I’m accountable to you, our customers, the flying public and all of our stakeholders for delivering on this – and each of us carries our share of the responsibility,” Muilenburg said in the memo sent after the board’s decision was announced on Friday.

Boeing said the board had stripped Muilenburg of his chairmanship title, in an unexpected strategy shift after months of pressure capped by a global aviation task force report that criticized development of the 737 MAX.

Lead Director David Calhoun, a senior managing director at Blackstone (NYSE:) Group, will take over as non-executive chairman, Boeing said. It added that the board had “full confidence” in Muilenburg, who will retain the CEO and president titles and remain on the board.

“I’m fully supportive of this division of labor and look forward to continuing my close partnership with Dave,” Muilenburg told employees in the memo.

The decision came some six months after Muilenburg survived a shareholder motion to split his chairman and CEO roles, part of the intense pressure he has faced during the worst crisis of his four years at the helm.

Muilenburg is set to testify before a U.S. House panel later this month and lawmakers have raised questions about Boeing’s actions prior to the 737 MAX certification.

Federal prosecutors aided by the FBI, the Transportation Department Inspector General and several blue-ribbon panels are also investigating the plane’s approval.

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