Today in the Fortune 500: Apple manufactures new iPad, the future of Fannie and Freddie and GM to divvy up profits among workers

February 9, 2011: 6:52 AM ET
Image representing iPad as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

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

APPLE'S NEW, IMPROVED IPAD is almost here. Apple (APPL) has started manufacturing a new, sleek version of its hot-selling tablet. The devices should have some of the features that consumers have been wanting, such as a built-in camera and better processing speed. The roll-out of the new iPads show that Apple is staying on schedule, even though CEO Steve Jobs is absent on medical leave. [Wall Street Journal]

LET THEM DOWN EASY The White House and House Republicans are in a pickle over how to reduce government support of Fannie Mae (FNMA) and Freddie Mac (FMCC). The White House missed its January deadline to draft a plan, but should produce one later this week. One option will probably be to end all government ownership and throw the companies into the free market completely. But even House Republicans are cautious that might further damage the housing market, since Fannie, Freddie and the Federal Housing Administration still handle 90% of money invested in mortgages. [New York Times]

EVERYBODY GETS A PIECE OF THE PIE at General Motors (GM) soon. The carmaker is planning to divvy up its profits into  payouts of up to $3,000 for its hourly workers. GM is splitting up profits among its people as part of an agreement with the United Auto Workers Union. The company should announce the official amount of money it's going to divide among its 45,000 hourly workers this week. The ability to do it at all reflects a major economic turnaround. [Wall Street Journal]

THEFT AND ESPIONAGE AT DOW retired scientist Wen Chyu Liu has been accused of stealing trade secrets from Dow Chemical and selling them to China. Liu, who started working at Dow (DOW) in 1966 and retired from the company in 1992, faces up to 15 years in prison for counts of conspiracy and perjury. [United Press International]

ENGINEERS NEEDED in top-level positions at Microsoft (MSFT). CEO Steve Ballmer plans to announce the related management shakeup later this month. The move may be necessary to even the playing ground with competitors such as Google (GOOG) and Apple that employ trained engineers high on the executive chain. The benefit is that employees with engineering training understand their company's products from the ground up. [Bloomberg Businessweek]

CONSUMERS BELIEVE IN MAGIC AGAIN Disney (DIS) had the first cheery financial earnings report for the first time in a long time. It finally reported positive growth for its theme park business after a nine quarter decline. Also, the company reported a spike in net income, up to $1.3 billion from $844 million during the same time the previous year. [New York Times]

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Shelley DuBois
Shelley DuBois
Writer - Reporter, Fortune

Shelley DuBois writes on management issues for Before joining Fortune, she was a producer for National Public Radio's Science Friday and worked for Wired. Shelley has a graduate degree in science, health and environmental reporting from New York University. She lives in Brooklyn.

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