Today in the Fortune 500: BP CEO is sorry, Ford steps up its Southeast Asian game and AIG pays off more government debt

March 9, 2011, 8:37 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

OUR BAD The CEO of BP (BP), Bob Dudley, took some time out of his speech to say sorry during the largest oil gathering since the spill in the gulf of Mexico–an energy conference put on by International Handling Services. “I hope that my messages today have been clear,” Dudley said during the conference. “BP is sorry. BP gets it. BP is changing.” [CNNMoney]

BEYOND CHINA AND INDIA Ford (F) plans to sell a wider range of vehicles in Southeast Asian countries including Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia. Now, Ford lags behind competitors such as Toyota in Southeast Asian market share, but wants to step up its game. [Wall Street Journal]

AIG FLIES AGAIN the aircraft-leasing arm of the insurance company is back in business.  AIG’s (AIG) branch, called International Lease Finance Corp. has placed its first order since the financial crisis in 2008. The order consists of 133 aircraft from Airbus and Boeing (BA). [Wall Street Journal]

AND MAKES A DENT IN ITS DEBT The insurer paid back $6.9 billion back to the government, $6.6 billion of which came from the recent $6.9 billion sale of its shares in MetLife. The U.S. Treasury ultimately expects to break even on its investment in AIG, although it still holds $18 billion preferred equity stake in the company. [New York Times]

BOFA PUTS ITS FOOT DOWN on writing off tens of millions worth of mortgage debt, as requested by the U.S. government. Bank of America (BAC) claims that it’s going to be difficult to figure out which borrowers to help. Also, the bank argues, helping people too much could enable them to walk away from property worth less than the loans they receive. [New York Times]

PCS FEEL THE IPAD IMPACT Apple’s (AAPL) has managed to keep the price of its iPad 2 as low as the iPad 1, despite much better specs. This is causing some shakeup in other PC manufacturers who were preparing to release tablets. To compete with Apple’s new gear, they’ll  probably have to get the costs of their devices below $399, which is going to be a squeeze. [Fast Company]