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Today in the Fortune 500: Wal-Mart mobilizes relief effort in Japan, GE pays no American taxes and BP struggles for Arctic access

March 25, 2011: 10:43 AM ET
A typical Wal-Mart discount department store i...

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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

WAL-MART STEPS UP in the wake of the earthquake that shook Japan. Following the quake, Wal-Mart (WMTmobilized a local relief effort to deliver supplies such as water and flashlights to survivors. The store has a history of helping in times of crisis--the retailer was also able to get supplies to people who needed them following Hurricane Katrina. [Wall Street Journal]

TAX FREE GE General Electric (GE) paid no taxes in America last year, thanks to a strategy of lobbying hard for tax breaks and some innovative accounting measures. That's despite the fact that $5.1 billion of GE's total $14.2 billion worth of profits came from operations in America. [New York Times]

BP GETS THE COLD SHOULDER in the Arctic, as a group of Russian billionaires with BP's partner TNK-BP continue to block a proposed deal between BP and Russian energy company Rosneft. The deal would give BP (BP) more access to oil plays in the Arctic, which the company desperately wants as part of its strategy to revamp offshore drilling efforts following the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. [New York Times]

MEANWHILE, BACK IN THE GULF Chevron (CVX) received its first permit for new exploration since the BP oil spill. Four other permits have been issued to drill since the spill, but Chevron's is the first that will explore a new oil field. [Associated Press]

BUFFETT GETS ANIMATED for a new kid's TV series called "Secret Millionaires Club." The Berkshire Hathaway (BRKA) chief will voice his cartoon character in the show, which has enough financing now for 26 episodes. [New York Times]

SPRINT COULD WIN in the AT&T (T) deal with T-Mobile, according to some analysts. While Sprint's (S) stock dropped following news of the mega merger, it's possible that Sprint could benefit from the high prices across the industry that will come with less competition. Also, Sprint could poach potential customers who would have bought a T-Mobile plan but won't sign up for AT&T. [Fortune]

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