Buyers have rebelled against bond offerings that tried to deprive them of penalty payments when a company breaches its credit pact, forcing changes to at least $17 billion in new debt.

Companies including General Motors Co., insurance brokerage Marsh & McLennan Cos. and chipmaker Broadcom Ltd. bowed to a firestorm of protests Wednesday by dropping language designed to eliminate the penalties, according to regulatory filings and people with knowledge of the matter. The payments can be triggered by dozens of missteps, such as piling up too much debt or letting cash sink too low, that could make a company riskier than bondholders expected.


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