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Explain in Detail: What Is a Debenture?

Triston Martin

Jan 02, 2024


What Is a Debenture? Any person owing money from a limited company can lodge a debenture charge against the limited company's assets. Lenders typically seek to acquire security over some or all of a borrower's assets after the parties have agreed on a loan amount, with fixed interest rates being the norm. This is done in preparation for the possibility that the latter may be unable to repay, as may happen if, for instance, the company went bankrupt. An issue of debentures can be established quickly. Companies House registration is required and only takes a few days. Multiple debentures may cover the same or separate assets.

Debentures are issued exclusively by the largest and most creditworthy loan issuers whose ability to repay is not in dispute. Debentures can be issued by national governments like the United States Treasury because they can utilize tax revenue to repay investors. Using debentures, issuers can protect their assets if they need to collateralize senior debt. In addition, if investors are ready to pay for sufficiently low-interest rates on any debentures issued, they may not feel the need to utilize their assets as collateral. A company with poor credit will need to pay a high-interest rate on its debentures to attract investors. Debentures are issued by companies and governments alike. Debentures include government-issued debt instruments like bonds and bills.

Fixed and Floating Debentures Meaning

Debentures can be either of two types, and it's essential to know which one you're getting into. Debentures secured by a piece of fixed property, equipment, or inventory are known as "fixed debentures." Debentures can prevent you from selling an asset, making changes like relocating or upgrading your equipment, or even buying a new car until the debt is repaid. Floating debentures are backed by assets whose value fluctuates, like stock. You are not restricted from selling or buying as you would be with a fixed debenture. When a company goes under, the asset's value represented by the floating debenture "crystallizes" or becomes evident.

Variety of Debentures

The security, maturity, convertibility, and other features of debentures issued by a firm vary widely. Let's examine several examples of such debentures. Debentures backed by some corporate assets are called "secured debentures." If a default in repayment of such debentures, a charge will be created on such an asset. As a result, the asset will be sold to repay the debentures if the corporation does not have the finances to do so. The charge can be either fixed, meaning that it is placed against a particular asset or floating, meaning that it is placed against all of the firm's assets. Unsecured debt instruments are not backed by a fixed or movable charge on the company's assets. Debentures of this type are unusual for Indian corporations to issue.

How Are Debentures Structured?

Debentures are essentially long-term loans, with maturities typically between five and ten years. When issuing unsecured debt, issuers often provide a greater interest rate than they would for a secured loan or bond. They need this to balance out the risks they're taking. Debentures have lower priority than common and preferred shares but are nonetheless paid in full in the case of bankruptcy or liquidation. Depending on the terms, debentures can be prioritized over other unsecured loans.

Features of a Debenture

Interest Rate

The interest rate at which the corporation will make interest payments to debenture holders or investors is established. The coupon rate may be set permanently or allowed to fluctuate.

Credit Score

The interest rate paid to investors is affected by the firm's creditworthiness and, eventually, the debenture. Agencies that evaluate credit risk evaluate bonds issued by corporations and governments. These organizations explain to potential bond buyers what they're up against.

Maturity Date

The maturity date is another significant aspect of the aforementioned nonconvertible debentures. The payment deadline for the debenture holders is set as of this date. The corporation can choose how it wants to be reimbursed.


Cost-effective long-term funding alternatives to traditional short-term loans. In contrast to taking on investors, a debenture loan gives the lender no power (such as voting rights). A "bare" debenture does not specify a due date for repayment. The contract does not cover any profit sharing.


Potentially stifling developments and growth. If a company has redeemable debentures, the principal and interest are due on the specified date, no matter how much of a strain it will have on its finances.


A debenture is an unsecured form of debt with a maturity of more than ten years and a fixed interest rate. Debentures have no safety features other than the issuer's good standing and ability to pay. Debentures are a popular way for businesses and governments to raise money. Not all debentures are convertible into common stock.

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