Today in the Fortune 500: Southwest planes grounded, BP wants back in the Gulf and Pfizer sells Capsugel

April 4, 2011, 8:53 PM UTC
Southwest Airlines Taxiing Runway
Image by planetc1 via FlickrThe 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.

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

GROUNDED Southwest Airlines (LUV) will probably cancel up to 100 flights on Monday because of cracks found in the main body of its Boeing (BA) Co. 737-300 jets. Friday, a Southwest pilot flying one of these planes over Arizona had to make an emergency landing because of the defect. Southwest grounded 300 flights this past weekend to check for cracks in other planes. [Wall Street Journal]

DIDN’T YOU MISS THEM? BP (BP) has asked the government for permission to return to the Gulf of Mexico and resume drilling operations. Under a year since the oil spill, BP has offered to tune up its safety standards in exchange for the right to keep producing at its 10 existing wells in the Gulf. [New York Times]

THE PHARMA SPINOFFS CONTINUE as Pfizer sells Capsugel, a unit that makes drug delivery systems such as capsules, to Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. The deal will bring in $2.38 billion in cash for Pfizer (PFE), which will need to restructure, like several similar companies whose blockbuster drugs will soon face competition from generics. [Wall Street Journal]

TAXES STILL INEVITABLE even for GE (GE), despite the confusion caused by a March 25 New York Times piece that insinuated that GE didn’t pay taxes in America for 2010. A breakdown of GE’s complicated tax situation. [Fortune]

HIRING LIKE CRAZY McDonald’s (MCD) says it will hire 50,000 new U.S. workers on April 19th. The hiring spree could be seen as a sign that the American economy is truly improving. [CNNMoney]

CONFLICT RESOLUTION Apple (AAPL) and Intel (INTC) both have chosen to stop using “conflict materials” completely. Conflict materials are certain metals mined in the Congo that are used to fund war in that country. The two tech giants are ahead of the game–next year, all electronics companies will be legally required to disclose their usage of these controversial metals. [Fast Company]