Today in the Fortune 500: Buffett buys Lubrizol, GE pledges to help Japan and tension builds between BP and its Russian partners

March 14, 2011, 6:37 PM UTC
Lubrizol ERT - Deer Park, tx.
Image by Christopher Ebdon, av8pix.com via Flickr

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

BUFFETT BUYS CHEMICAL COMPANY called  Lubrizol for $9 billion in cash. It’s one of the biggest deals ever for Berkshire Hathaway (BRKA), which, according to CEO Warren Buffett, will spend a significant chunk of its $38 billion in cash on major acquisitions this year. [New York Times]

GE HELPS JAPAN as nuclear power plant explosions following the damage from Friday’s 8.9 earthquake threaten the country’s energy supply. To start, GE (GE) CEO Jeff Immelt said GE would donate $5 million to Japanese relief efforts. [Wall Street Journal]

TROUBLE IN RUSSIA for BP, which blocked its Soviet-born billionaire partners in Russia from joining a deal with Russian national oil company OAO Rosneft. The resulting tension could be a setback for BP (BP), which had previously hailed its deal with Rosneft as a major milestone, indicating that Russia is now open to partner with foreign energy companies. [Wall Street Journal]

BETTER LUCK IN BRAZIL where the company is boosting its biofuels business. BP announced it would buy an 83% stake in a major Brazilian sugar and ethanol producer. The acquisition  will give BP the means to produce 1.4 billion liters of ethanol per year, up from its current production capacity of 435 million liters. [Wall Street Journal]

WILL MORTGAGE PROBLEMS TAKE DOWN BOFA? Wikileaks founder Julian Assange promised months ago to release incriminating documents from Bank of America (BAC). Sunday, a flurry of tweets indicated those leaks would go live, and expose some of the bank’s shady practices selling mortgages–the question is whether or not the leaked documents could do any real damage. [Fortune]

TAXING AMAZON has always been difficult. The online retailer has fought hard not to collect sales tax on products sold in states where it doesn’t have a physical presence. But the issue is coming to a head as many states, facing crippling deficits, are pushing Amazon.com (AMZN) and other online retailers to collect. [New York Times]