Boeing Co. is expected to name 3M Co. Chairman W. James McNerney Jr. today as its new chairman and chief executive, ending a three-month search that followed the sudden ouster of its previous CEO and a series of ethics scandals.
McNerney, whom the company has been courting for several years, would be the company's first CEO hired from outside. He agreed to take the job after a regularly scheduled meeting among Boeing directors last weekend, said a person close to the board's deliberations, speaking on condition of anonymity.
McNerney, 55, is highly regarded in the aerospace industry and has been considered a top contender to help repair Boeing's reputation. Before taking over the top post at 3M, he ran General Electric Co.'s jet engine unit.
Boeing, the world's largest aerospace company, had been hit by several ethics scandals that led to a jail term for its chief financial officer and the abrupt resignations of two successive chief executives in the last year and a half.
The latest of these departures occurred in April, when Harry C. Stonecipher, a longtime aerospace executive, was forced out after admitting to having an extramarital affair with a female Boeing executive. The resignation was particularly embarrassing since he had come out of retirement to restore Boeing's reputation amid separate Pentagon procurement scandals.
McNerney will join the company at a pivotal moment: In recent months Boeing has been buoyed by an uptick in orders for commercial airplanes and expects to regain the lead in that business, which it lost in 2003 for the first time to archrival Airbus.
The choice of McNerney will raise questions about the fate of two senior executives who currently run Boeing's two largest businesses. Commercial aircraft unit President Alan Mulally and James Albaugh, head of Boeing's defense business, were vying for the top job and ran operations that each generated more annual revenue than 3M.
McNerney was considered a top contender for the job even though he publicly announced he was not interested in it.
McNerney, who spent 18 years at General Electric, took the 3M job in 2001 after being passed over to succeed longtime GE CEO Jack Welch. He earned $1.6 million in salary and a $3.5-million bonus at 3M last year.