Three months after Boeing Co.'s former chief executive was forced to resign, the aerospace giant is expected to name 3M Co. CEO W. James McNerney Jr. (search) on Thursday as its new chief executive, according to a published report.

The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that McNerney, 55, will become Chicago-based Boeing's third CEO since December 2003.

Boeing has been without a permanent boss since CEO Harry Stonecipher was forced to resign three months ago after admitting an affair with a female executive in the middle of a high-profile drive to improve company ethics.

A message left at St. Paul, Minn.-based 3M (search) was not immediately returned Wednesday night. Boeing spokesman Tim Neale declined to comment.

Earlier this month, Boeing Chairman Lew Platt said the board was down to a short list of "five or six" potential new chief executives, including two internal candidates.

Platt had confirmed that the head of the commercial division, Alan Mulally, and Jim Albaugh, head of the company's space and defense business, were both on the list, and denied reports that the job had been turned down by an external candidate.

McNerney said this spring that he was not interested in leaving 3M, but his position changed recently after discussing the matter with Boeing (search) board members and others in the industry, the Wall Street Journal reported.