As David Calhoun has made clear since the CARES Act was passed, Boeing was not in favor of handing over part ownership of the company to the U.S. government. So, it was no surprise when Boeing formally decided not to seek government financial assistance under the CARES Act “at this time” after completing a bond offering to shore up its liquidity during the Covid-19 crisis.
The company confirmed their decision on Thursday, April 30th.
Boeing has raised $25 billion in a massive debt sale, allowing it to avoid tapping a $17 billion coronavirus bailout fund meant to shore up businesses critical to national security.
The bond sale significantly increases Boeing’s chances of riding out the crisis without direct government support. Turning down the funds means the company will not have to give the government an ownership stake, a requirement that executives had said they wouldn’t accept.
Structured across seven tranches with multiple maturities ranging from three to 40 years, the new debt will allow Boeing to avoid exchanging government loans for equity in the company, a scenario CEO David Calhoun has said multiple times he did not favor. Boeing also said it will not immediately pursue further funding through capital markets.
“The robust demand for the offering reflects strong support for the long-term strength of Boeing and the aviation industry,” said Boeing in a statement. “It is also in part a result of the confidence in the market created by the CARES Act and federal support programs that have been put in place—a testament to the Administration, Congress, and the Federal Reserve.”
Before the Senate voted unanimously to pass the $2 trillion CARES Act, Boeing called for a $60 billion injection for itself and its supply chain. At the time, however, it remained unclear whether or not the government would require taking partial ownership of the company as a condition of the support. But once language in the law allowed for the government to take warrants amounting to stock options in companies applying for the aid, Boeing’s efforts turned toward ensuring funding through the private sector.
In its first-quarter earnings release, Boeing reported a $1.4 billion loss from operations and a negative cash flow of $4.3 billion during the first quarter and stressed the need to manage near-term liquidity. Speaking with analysts during a subsequent conference call, Calhoun expressed optimism in the company’s ability to raise cash in the short term.
Actions taken to mitigate cash burn include its draw-down on a term loan facility; reduction of operating costs and discretionary spending; extension of a share-repurchase moratorium; suspension of dividends “until further notice;” cutting research and development and capital expenditures, and eliminating CEO and chairman pay for the year.
That stance concerned lawmakers from Washington state, who urged Calhoun in a letter to “consider utilizing the economic assistance provided by the Cares Act to safeguard thousands of jobs at Boeing in Washington State and across the country.”