Deals wrap: The GM IPO

A GM sign is seen outside the Medved General Motors car dealership in Arvada, Colorado August 12, 2010.   REUTERS/Rick Wilking As General Motors gears up for its initial public offering, the Treasury Department is calling the shots on everything from banking fees to the potential involvement of offshore investors. *View graphic on world IPOs *View graphic on GM value

ICBC, the world’s biggest lender by market value, paid a token $1 for a small U.S. brokerage firm, the Wall Street Journal reported. The deal highlights the continued strength and growing influence of Chinese financial companies.

Ambac, once one of the largest U.S. bond insurers, said it may file for bankruptcy protection this year, after missing an interest payment due on some debt.

Code names such as “Krypton” and “Eclipse” have disguised some of 2010′s takeovers. Expect dealmakers to come up with more aliases to guard against leaks as mergers and acquisitions accelerate.

Merit Pay

BONDS- INSURERS/AMBACBond insurer Ambac Financial Group is still around. That fact alone perhaps justifies some kudos for management. One of the early harbingers of the financial apocalypse, Ambac tumbled from the loftiest perch of the insurance world when its business of guaranteeing mortgage debt morphed into a black hole. Its ratings were slashed, its capital position shrank and its share price crumbled. The stock is down 96 percent since the beginning of 2008 and closed down nearly 9 percent on Monday at $1.04.

So the company announced yesterday it had awarded Chairman Michael Callen a $975,000 bonus for 2008 and Chief Executive David Wallis, who succeeded Callen on Oct. 21, a $500,000 bonus. The executives were not awarded any long-term stock compensation, according to the filing, which would have been a silly thing for them to accept given the stock’s performance.

Wallis knows the problems the company has faced better than most. Before becoming CEO in October he was chief risk officer. Under his stewardship, the insurer has ceased writing new business. The company lost $3.3 billion in 2007. It has yet to report its full-year 2008 results.