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Financing Could Get Tougher for Boeing

June 24, 2015
Boeing is the biggest customer of the US Export-Import Bank, the independent export credit agency whose fate is tied up in Congress.

WASHINGTON--The threatened closure of the Export-Import Bank, which supports U.S. exporters with loan guarantees, could make financing tougher for aircraft maker Boeing, rating firm Standard & Poor's said Wednesday.

Authorization for the 81-year-old bank expires on June 30, after Congress renewed it for nine months last September. So far the Republican majority and Democratic minority on Capitol Hill are unable to agree on the fate of the independent export credit agency.

Boeing is the largest beneficiary of the bank's credit support, and could suffer in the long term it its authorization lapses next Tuesday, said S&P analyst Philip Baggaley in a note.

The Chicago-based aircraft manufacturer "should have little problem arranging financing for its aircraft exports in the near term," thanks to ample lending available from commercial banks, aircraft leasing companies and the capital markets, Baggaley said.

"However, in the long term, Boeing might have to step up its direct customer financing more substantially in a global recession, when other sources of financing would dry up," he said. 

That scenario could occur as Boeing's earnings are under pressure because of weaker demand for its aircraft, raising the prospect of a credit downgrade, the analyst added.

In a recent Financial Times opinion article, two professors, Gregory Chin at York University in Canada and Kevin Gallagher at Boston University, warned that the demise of the Ex-Im Bank would give an advantage to China.

"The Ex-Im Bank has proven strategic in geopolitical and economic terms for the United States. Now, as China rises, the U.S. should be increasing the presence and performance of the Ex-Im Bank to both serve as an example for responsible global public finance, and to bolster the presence of American firms in global markets," they wrote.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015.

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