Today in the Fortune 500: U.S. government wants to set GM free this year, CVS and Aetna push for cheaper drugs and Verizon and AT&T miss out on Cuban opportunity.
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
GM READY TO DRIVE SOLO sometime within the next year, according to a representative from the Obama administration. After the government saved the company from going under in 2009 with $49.5 billion, both parties are ready for the government to sell its remaining investment soon. To break even on the deal, GM (GM) shares will have to pull in $53 each, on average. [Wall Street Journal]
SOME 3PAR VERBAL SPARRING GOING ON at the World Economic Forum in Davos as Michael Dell, founder and CEO of Dell (DELL) says that the $2.35 billion that Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) paid for storage company 3Par Inc. was too high. Dell commended his own company’s business savvy in withholding from the deal, which he only did just barely, according to HP Chariman Ray Lane, who says Dell was ready to pay almost as much as HP. [Bloomberg Businessweek]
FORTUNE 500 COMPANIES PUSH FOR CHEAPER DRUGS Pharmacy network CVS (CVS) and insurer Aetna (AET) are asking the FDA to interpret a provision in last year’s health reform bill to help get cheaper, generic versions of drugs on the market faster. The law says that pharma companies have rights to medicines for 12 years. But CVS and others are asking the FDA to ensure that the 12-year exclusivity period only applies to sales of the drugs, not rights to develop generic versions. That way, companies producing generics could have them ready to hit the market as soon as the 12 year period ends, so retailers like CVS could get their hands on cheaper drugs sooner. [Wall Street Journal]
SARA LEE WILL BREAKUP ITSELF if it has to, the company has said, if companies gearing up to bid for it can’t pull together enough money. Brazilian food company JBS Brazil is having trouble raising the funds to back a previous offer. Sara Lee’s (SLE) other potential bidder, Apollo Global Management is still figuring out whether it should meet Sara Lee’s price demands. [New York Times]
ADIOS, CUBA Both Verizon (V) and AT&T (T) had a shot at getting a foothold in the Cuban telecom market before a pricing dispute between Cuba and the U.S. Federal Communications Commission squashed the opportunity. The FCC, thus far has been unwilling to budge on President Raul Castro’s demands to increase the price of routing calls from 60 cents per minute to 84 cents per minute. [Bloomberg Businessweek]
PROCTER & GAMBLE’S OLD SPICE AD BLITZ, TAKE TWO Smash social media hit and actor Isaiah Mustafa is back for another set of YouTube videos, television ads and twitter streams promoting products for Procter & Gamble’s (PG) Old Spice brand. His first commercial released a year ago received tens of thousands of views online. Old Spice brand manager James Moorehead says they’re ready to “reward our fans across social media” the second time around. [ABC]