Today in the Fortune 500: BP buys into Indian energy, Wal-Mart’s same-store sales rut and Apple’s new iPad delays

February 22, 2011, 5:57 PM UTC
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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

IN A VERY BRITISH MOVE energy giant BP (BP) announced plans to pay over $7 billion for stake in Reliance Industries, India’s largest private oil company. The deal gives BP a 20 percent stake in 23 of Reliance’s oil and gas fields, and will set up a 50-50 joint venture in natural gas. The agreement between the two companies was signed in the home of the British chancellor of the Exchequer as a nod to the history of relations between Britain and India. [New York Times]

STICK WITH THE GAME PLAN Wal-Mart Stores (WMT) is in a rut. On Tuesday, the company will probably report a decline in U.S. same-store sales  for the second year in a row, which is the worst slump for the company ever. Executives blame the loss of sales on a deviation from Wal-Mart’s core corporate strategy, that being to keep prices super low. [Wall Street Journal]

POSSIBLE IPAD ROLLOUT DELAY ahead, due to production bottlenecks at an Apple (APPL) manufacturing plant in Taipei. The holdup, which might last as long as two months, could drop sales of Apple’s new version if its iPad tablet from over 30 million tablets to 23 million units. Also, the delay could give manufacturers making devices powered by Google’s (GOOG) Android OS a chance to gain market share. [Bloomberg Businessweek]

THE MURDOCH FAMILY DYNASTY consolidates power as News Corp., chaired by Rupert Murdoch, will pay $674 million for his daughter Elisabeth Murdoch’s television production company Shine Group. When the agreement goes through, Ms. Murdoch is expected to take on a position on the News Corp. board. The deal is supposed to give News Corp. (NWS) better access to reality shows. [Wall Street Journal]

PEPSI CUTS OUT THE MIDDLE-MAN and has started buying corn for its snack food products directly from Mexican farmers and processing it at local plants. It’s a good business move for Pepsi (PEP) because the cost of corn fluctuates much less than the cost of fuel for added transportation. It also benefits many local communities where farmers have been getting paid better and rates of illegal immigration have declined. [New York Times]

ON HP’S OVERHAUL A look at how the complete metamorphosis of HP’s (HPQ) board will help the company meet the challenges of a changing tech market. [Fortune]