Today in the Fortune 500: Fried chicken for Africa, Wells Fargo invests in wealth and Halliburton explains why the Gulf went up in smoke.

December 8, 2010, 6:55 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.

KFC in the UK
Image by Toban Black via Flickr

By Shelley DuBois, reporter

IN FORTUNE 500 GLOBAL EXPANSION NEWS Starbucks (SBUX) is looking for a way into India and Yum! Brands Inc. (YUM) wants to see more of the Colonel in Africa. The company plans to double the number of KFC stores there by 2014, and increase revenue from Africa to $2 billion. [Wall Street Journal]

TOYOTA CHEAPENS THE CHARGE Toyota (TM) plans to use laptop-sized battery packs to power its electric cars, instead of the bulky lithium-ion batteries in GM (GM) and Nissan (NSANY) models. Small battery packs could ultimately drop the price of electric vehicles for consumers, making them competitive with gas-burning cars. Using them was car maker Tesla’s (TSLA) wants to get in on that. The bank’s CEO John Stumpf said that Well’s Fargo’s wealth management portfolio was “sub-optimized” during a New York conference, and he plans to change that. [Reuters]

ANOTHER REASON TO QUIT SMOKING A Halliburton (HAL) technician told a federal investigative panel that he missed the warning signals coming from BP’s (BP) Macondo well because he was on a smoke break minutes before the Deepwater Horizon rig caught fire and sank into the Gulf. [Bloomberg]

HALLIBURTON ALSO COMES CLEAN on fracking. The company agreed to provide documents about a well-stimulation method used in drilling for natural gas to the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA is completing a study on whether fracking contaminates drinking water. [Wall Street Journal]

SHIPPING GETS SECURE After intercepting two parcel bombs in October, the United Parcel Service (UPS) is ramping up shipping security measures in time for the holiday season. No one can ship without a government-issued ID, the company said. [CNBC]

WE RIGGED THIS CITY Bank of America (BAC) admitted, back in 2007, when it reported that employees had rigged bids for municipal bond contracts some time between 1998 and 2003. Now the bank will pay $137 to settle the charges. [New York Times]