Today in the Fortune 500: Nokia defends Microsoft deal, Apple’s new, cheap iPhone and JPMorgan gets social.

February 14, 2011, 6:06 PM UTC
Image representing Windows 7 as depicted in Cr...
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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

IT’S A GOOD DEAL, WE PROMISE Nokia is having to defend its recent deal with Microsoft (MSFT), which spooked investors who thought it might benefit Microsoft much more than the smaller Finnish company. But Nokia CEO Stephen Elop claims that even though his company will have to pay Microsoft for the use of its Windows 7 operating system in Nokia’s handheld devices, Nokia will also receive billions of dollars in financial support. [Wall Street Journal]

APPLE FEELS THE PRESSURE from the crowded smartphone market, and is working on rolling out a smaller, cheaper iPhone. While Apple’s (APPL) iPhone has been an industry leader, other handheld devices, many of which run Google’s (GOOG) Android platform, are grabbing more market share. The iPhone only captured 3.4% of global smartphone market share last year. [Wall Street Journal]

JPMORGAN JUMPS ON THE SOCIAL BANDWAGON following Goldman Sach’s move to collect $1.5 billion of funding for Facebook. Now, JPMorgan (JPM) wants to raise in between $500 million and $750 million for a new fund that allows wealthy investors to get in on privately held social media and Internet companies such as Twitter and Groupon before they go public. [New York Times]

G.E. GETS DEEPER IN OIL with its $2.8 billion purchase of the well-support unit of the John Wood Group, which makes, among other things, specialized pumps to recover oil from wells. The deal marks another step in G.E.’s (GE) major move into the energy sector, specifically to boost its ability to drill for unconventional oil and natural gas. Two months ago, GE bought the UK oil and gas pipeline company Wellstream Holdings for $1.3 billion. [New York Times]

IT’S NO DREAMLINER, BUT Boeing is releasing a new passenger jet called the 747-8, or the Intercontinental.  The company is confident that it will release the jet on time, which will be key for Boeing (BA) to clear its reputation that’s been tarnished by Dreamliner delays.  The first Intercontinental flight is scheduled for March. [Bloomberg Businessweek]

WAL-MART ONE STEP CLOSER TO SOUTH AFRICA A South African competition commission approved Wal-Mart’s proposed $2.4 billion bid to take over African retail chain Massmart. Unions in Africa fear that Wal-Mart’s takeover of the chain will give the company an unfair advantage over local competition. The deal must pass a final competition tribunal hearing before Wal-Mart (WMT) gets the green light. [Wall Street Journal]