Sergey Brin

Today in the Fortune 500: Leadership changes at Google and HP, Berkshire Hathaway's Buffett leaves the Washington Post and GE's Immelt will lead Obama's new economic council.

January 21, 2011: 5:19 AM ET
Larry Page & Sergey Brin (google tycons), art ...

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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

SWEEPING POWER SHIFT for a couple of Fortune 500 tech companies. First, Google (GOOG) CEO Eric Schmidt will step down from his position as CEO in April, when co-founder Larry Page will take his place. Despite the leadership change, Schmidt has indicated that he, Schmidt and other co-founder Sergey Brin will continue to rules Google as "a powerful triumvirate." [Wall Street Journal]

In that vein, Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) plans to make major changes to its entire board, following the departure of former CEO Mark Hurd. Shareholders have faulted members of the old board for mishandling the ousting of Hurd. New board members will be more likely to support the management strategies of new CEO Leo Apotheker and chairman Ray Lane. [Bloomberg Businessweek]

IN OTHER BOARD CHANGES Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett will step down from his role on the board of the Washington Post, a position he first took in 1974. He didn't provide a clear reason for leaving, but Berkshire Hathaway (BRKA) will keep a relationship with the Washington Post, remaining the largest shareholder in the paper with a 24% stake. [New York Times]

OBAMA TAPS IMMELT to run a panel of economic advisers. Jeff Immelt, CEO of G.E. (GE), will replace Paul Volcker in the role. Immelt will be in charge of a panel called the Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, which President Obama will create by executive order. It's a new version of the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board. The change is meant to signal a shift in the administration, from focusing on patching up the economy to job creation. [New York Times]

BREAKING THE BANK trend of tepid earnings, Morgan Stanley (MS) reports great fourth quarter profit numbers. The bank made $1.1 billion, or 43 cents per share from continuing operations. That's a major increase from the same time a year ago, when the company earned $653 million, or 18 cents per share. GEO James Gorman says there's still more to be done to drive revenue and profit growth. [Fortune]

OOPS, TOO FAR EAST Coca-Cola's (KO) CEO Muhtar Kent had a bit of a faux pas while getting the crowd at Washington's Wardman Park Marriott Hotel ready for Chinese President Hu Jintao's only policy address. Kent tried to cross the language barrier in his toast to President Hu, but perhaps crossed it too far, toasting the Chinese President in Japanese. [Bloomberg Businessweek]

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