By Shelley DuBois
January 10, 2011

The Fortune 500 comes out just once a year, but the companies on it make headlines every day. Here then are today’s highlights of news and happenings coming from the biggest names in business.

By Shelley DuBois, reporter

DUPONT’S BIGGEST DEAL SINCE 1999 happened this past Sunday when the chemical company bought Danish company Danisco, which makes enzymes used for industry as well as specialty food ingredients such as yogurt cultures. The deal cost DuPont (DD) $5.8 billion, and should help it increase production of biofuels. [New York Times]

DETROIT GETS ITS GROOVE BACK Companies are jazzed again for the North American International Auto Show which opens in Detroit this week. The show has basically been a bummer since the recession, but now, automakers plan to reveal 40 new car models. Also, if industry leaders GM (GM) and Ford (F) make good on their market share, Barclay’s Capital predicts that they could each generate up to $4 billion in additional revenue. [Wall Street Journal]

CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW? Verizon is getting ready to offer an unlimited data-use plan to iPhone carriers, which the company will probably announce in New York on Tuesday. Offering unlimited data-use should distinguish Verizon’s (VZ) service from AT&T’s (T), which has been criticized for spotty coverage and dropped calls since its exclusive deal with Apple (APPL) in 2007. [Wall Street Journal]

BP LEAK COULD JOLT OIL MARKETS BP (BP) was forced to shut down 95% of its production after dealing with a leaky pipe in its Trans-Alaska Pipeline System, which pumps from North America’s biggest field, Prudhoe Bay. That means that today, oil markets could have to cope with a loss of up to 15% of U.S. crude. [Financial Times]

WE’RE INNOVATING AGAIN The U.S. saw a 31% jump in new patents issued during 2010. IBM (IBM), Samsung and Microsoft (MSFT) led the rest of the companies in new intellectual property, with IBM becoming the first company to get more than 5,000 patents in a year. [Bloomberg Businessweek]

SARA LEE BUYOUT? A group of investors put together by private equity firm Apollo and investor Dean Metropoulos are circling Sara Lee (SLE) with potential buy-out plans. The company, which recently rejected a takeover bid from Brazilian beef company JBS SA, is still planning to separate its beef and coffee businesses into two distinct companies. [Wall Street Journal]

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