Today in the Fortune 500: A look at Lloyd Blankfein’s potential successors, Citi surprises Wall Street and Johnson & Johnson looks at Synthes

April 18, 2011, 6:52 PM UTC
A gas station in Chevron Corporation's new tra...
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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

EYEING NEW LEADERSHIP AT GOLDMAN Current CEO Lloyd Blankfein hasn’t indicated that he will retire any time soon, but he did mention to some of his friends last summer that navigating the company through the financial crisis has been tiring enough to make him want to step down, gracefully, should the opportunity arise. If that happens, there are three likely candidates to take charge after Mr. Blankfein, all of them inside Goldman Sachs (GS). [New York Times]

THE BAR MAY BE LOW, but Citigroup (C) continues to perform fairly well, which is surprising given its dire status during the financial crisis. Its revenue fell in first quarter of 2011–Citi reported revenue of $19.7 billion for the period, down from $25.4 billion in last year’s first quarter–but the company continues to benefit from improving credit trends. [Fortune]

SHOULD J&J BUY? Johnson & Johnson is could possibly purchase medical-device company Synthes, which sells plates and screws used to mend broken bones.  Buying Synthes would better position J&J (JNJ) to cash in on the $28.3 billion market for orthopedic devices. It would also force J&J to expand when they’re dealing with major recall issues that cost the company $900 million in sales during 2010. [Wall Street Journal]

SELL MORE STUFF, some of BP’s (BP) largest shareholders have asked, calling for the oil company to shed assets to get even more cash than the $30 billion the company has planned to obtain to pay for damages from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Some of BP’s top ten investors are asking for BP to bank $30 billion more in cash. BP stated that it was perfectly fine with its current level of fundraising. [BBC]

TAXES ARE A BUMMER for all of us, even Chevron (CVX), which is upset about the UK’s recent tax hike on oil and gas production in the North Sea. An unexpected change in tax rate like this could have “unintended consequences,”  Chevron CEO John Watson warned, and affect where the oil company invests in the future. [Financial Times]

THE DRILLS GO ON in the United States, despite reduced activity in the Gulf of Mexico. In fact, the number of active North American drilling rigs increased 29% in the first quarter of 2011. That’s been good news for Halliburton (HAL), whose net income jumped from $206 million in the first quarter of 2010 to $522 million. [Bloomberg Businessweek]