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Boeing CEO ousted as 737 MAX crisis deepens

Reuters logo Reuters 23/12/2019
Dennis Muilenburg holding a wine glass: FILE PHOTO: Dennis Muilenburg testifies before the House © Reuters/Sarah Silbiger FILE PHOTO: Dennis Muilenburg testifies before the House (Reuters) - Boeing Co has ousted Chief Executive Officer Dennis Muilenburg, following a year of intense scrutiny and industrial setbacks set off by twin fatal crashes of its 737 MAX jetliner.

The departure comes as the world's largest planemaker struggles to win regulatory approvals for its grounded best-selling jetliner while trying to repair trust with passengers and airline customers.

"The Board of Directors decided that a change in leadership was necessary to restore confidence in the Company moving forward as it works to repair relationships with regulators, customers, and all other stakeholders," the company said.

a close up of a logo: FILE PHOTO: The Boeing logo is displayed on a screen, at the NYSE in New York © Reuters/Brendan McDermid FILE PHOTO: The Boeing logo is displayed on a screen, at the NYSE in New York

The company's shares, which have fallen more than 20% since March, rose more than 2% to $335.24 in early trading.

Chairman David Calhoun will take over as CEO and president, effective Jan. 13, the company said.

The 737 MAX grounding was the biggest crisis of Muilenburg's 34-year tenure at Boeing, where he started as an intern in 1985, rising through the company's defense and services ranks to the top job in 2015.

Dennis Muilenburg wearing a suit and tie: FILE PHOTO: Boeing CEO Muilenburg pauses while speaking during a news conference at the annual shareholder meeting in Chicago © Reuters/POOL New FILE PHOTO: Boeing CEO Muilenburg pauses while speaking during a news conference at the annual shareholder meeting in Chicago

The company said this month it would suspend production of the MAX in January.

Speculation that Muilenburg would be fired had been circulating in the industry for months, intensifying in October when the board stripped him of his chairman title.

Board member Lawrence Kellner will become non-executive chairman of the board effective immediately, the company said. Chief Financial Officer Greg Smith will serve as interim CEO during the brief transition period.

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