When Cerberus Capital Management L.P.’s proposed purchase of a majority stake in General Motors Acceptance Corporation stalled last July, the culprit wasn’t cold feet, contract issues or any of dozens of other predictable roadblocks. It was Wal-Mart.

  • Dealmakers: Private Equity
  • The omnipresent retailer had filed an application to form an industrial bank, and the Federal Insurance Deposit Corporation responded to the resulting political uproar in the time-tested Washington, D.C., way: It declared a moratorium on all such applications. Unfortunately, the banking license that Wal-Mart wanted was the same one that Cerberus needed in order to own GMAC’s bank. Through a fluke, Cerberus found itself joined at the hip with the controversial discounter — and with its $14 billion GMAC deal in jeopardy.