Today in the Fortune 500: Shell in Russia, Google-Groupon, and old-time espionage

December 1, 2010, 7:08 PM UTC

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

Toyota Cavalier
Image by Hugo90 via Flickr

GOOGLE GETS ITS GROUPON almost, at least. Nearing a $6 billion deal with search giant Google (GOOG), e-coupon company Groupon shops for Asian start-ups. [New York Times]

TOYOTA READY TO ROLL in India today. Apparently, Toyota’s launch of the Indian-built compact car called the Etios was so crucial for the company that it was the only release that Toyota (TM) president Akio Toyoda kept on schedule in the throes of the financial crisis. [Bloomberg Businessweek]

BACK IN THE DRIVER’S SEAT after the bailout—US carmakers Chrysler and General Motors (GM) announced Tuesday that each company would hire about 1,000 people. But hold the champagne—Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke said the same day that US job growth is still stuck in neutral. [BBC]

IN OTHER COMEBACK NEWS insurance company A.I.G. (AIG) will sell some debt—about $2 billion worth of bonds—for the first time since the crisis. [New York Times]

REDEMPTION IN RUSSIA for Royal Dutch Shell (RDSA), which signed an agreement with major Russian gas company Gazprom. Two years ago, Gazprom had spurned Shell, citing concerns about environmental practices. The two companies made nice last year, and now plan to expand operations in other countries together. [BBC]

ROUGH PRESS FOR GOLDMAN on Tuesday. Everyone’s favorite fallen investment firm may face up to a $20 million fine for opting to step outside of the court system to fight former creditors of a hedge fund group, Bayou. The creditors claim Goldman Sachs (GS) knew about misconduct at Bayou.

Also, a former Goldman programmer went on trial for allegedly stealing secrets within Goldman’s high-frequency trading computer source code, a crime which could fall under the Economic Espionage Act. [New York Times]

MORE SPIES LIKE HIM accused of lurking at Dow Chemical (DOW) manufacturer Sasol North America. Environmental organization Greenpeace filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the companies for allegedly spying on Greenpeace workers involved in a campaign against toxic chemical pollutants. [USA Today]

RULE OF LAW Instead of shoulder-tapping a scientist to head pharma giant Merck & Co. (MRK), the company chose lawyer Kenneth Frazier as its new chief executive. Frazier made his mark at Merck by coordinating the company’s legal damage control surrounding the controversial drug Vioxx. [Wall Street Journal]