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A debenture is a type of debt instrument issued by a company or government to raise capital, typically involving a fixed interest rate and a fixed repayment schedule. It represents an unsecured loan, meaning the lender does not receive any collateral or specific assets as security against default. Debentures are sometimes considered riskier than secured debt but often offer higher interest rates as compensation for the increased risk.


The phonetics of the keyword “Debenture” is: /dɪˈbɛn.tʃər/

Key Takeaways

  1. A debenture is a type of debt instrument that companies issue to raise capital, usually with a fixed interest rate and a specified maturity date.
  2. Debentures are unsecured, which means they do not require collateral from the issuer. As a result, they often have higher interest rates than secured debt due to the increased risk for lenders.
  3. Investors who hold debentures are considered creditors of the issuing company and have the right to receive interest payments on a regular basis, along with principal repayment at the time of maturity.


Debentures are important in business and finance because they provide a vital source of capital for companies and organizations to fund their growth or ongoing operations. As long-term debt instruments, they allow companies to borrow money from investors, who in turn receive a fixed rate of interest over a predetermined period. This creates a win-win scenario where the company acquires the necessary funding without having to dilute ownership, and investors receive a steady stream of income in the form of interest payments. Furthermore, being a tradable security, debentures offer a degree of liquidity to investors and serves as a valuable investment option in diversified portfolios, contributing to the efficient functioning of financial markets.


Debentures are an essential financial instrument used by companies to raise capital for business expansion, acquisition, or simply to fund their ongoing operations. They are essentially debt instruments that pay periodic interest to holders, and in most cases, return the principal amount upon maturity. Debentures provide an attractive means of raising funds as they require no dilution of ownership or control in the company, unlike equity financing. This allows the company’s management to maintain their decision-making authority while still acquiring the necessary funds to drive growth or cover operational costs.

The purpose of issuing debentures is to provide companies with a flexible way to access capital markets. In return, investors consider debentures a relatively safer investment compared to equity instruments, as debenture holders are paid interest before dividends are distributed to shareholders. Further, in the case of liquidation, debenture holders are given priority over other creditors, ensuring that their claims are met before other stakeholders. While debentures do come in various forms, including secured and unsecured, convertible and non-convertible, their ultimate purpose remains the same – to facilitate a mutually beneficial arrangement between the issuing companies and investors, enabling capital influx for businesses and income for investors.


1. Tesla Inc.’s Convertible Debentures: In 2014, Tesla Inc., the electric car manufacturer, issued $1.38 billion in convertible debentures. These debentures had an initial conversion rate of 2.7778 shares of Tesla common stock per $1,000 debenture. Convertible debentures allow bondholders the option to convert their debt into Tesla equity if the share price reaches a certain threshold, potentially providing bondholders with increased returns. This financing strategy helped Tesla to raise significant capital without immediately diluting share value for existing shareholders.

2. Apple Inc.’s Senior Unsecured Debentures: In 2020, Apple Inc. issued $8.5 billion in senior unsecured debentures in various maturities and interest rates. These debentures had fixed interest rates ranging from 0.55% to 2.65% and had maturities varying from 3 years to 40 years. Apple used the proceeds from these debentures to fund capital expenditures, working capital, share repurchases, and dividend payments. Being highly creditworthy, Apple was able to offer relatively low interest rates to investors and raise funds at an attractive cost.

3. Verizon Communications Inc.’s Debenture Bonds: In 2013, Verizon Communications Inc. completed one of the largest corporate debt offerings in history, issuing $49 billion worth of debenture bonds. The proceeds were primarily used to finance the $130 billion acquisition of Vodafone’s 45% stake in Verizon Wireless. The debentures were offered with varying interest rates and maturities, allowing investors to choose based on their risk appetite and time horizon. This issuance indicated the company’s capability to raise significant capital through debt markets and cater to a wide range of investor preferences.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is a debenture?

A debenture is a type of long-term debt instrument issued by a company or government, which is not secured by collateral. It is backed by the general creditworthiness and reputation of the issuer and typically has a fixed repayment schedule and interest rate.

How do debentures differ from other debt instruments like bonds?

The primary difference between debentures and bonds is collateral. Debentures do not require collateral, while bonds are usually secured by specific assets. Debentures rely on the creditworthiness of the issuer for repayment, while bonds have a more significant guarantee of repayment.

Why do companies issue debentures?

Companies issue debentures to raise capital for various purposes such as financing operations, acquisitions, or long-term investments. Debentures can be a more flexible tool for raising capital compared to other debt instruments, as they generally have fewer restrictions and do not require collateral.

Are debentures risky for investors?

Investing in debentures carries risks. Since there is no collateral backing the debt, investors face a higher risk of default. To offset this risk, debentures typically have higher interest rates than secured bonds. Investors should thoroughly research the issuer’s financial stability and credit rating before investing in debentures.

What are the different types of debentures?

Debentures can be classified into various types based on factors like convertibility, redemption, and security. The primary categories are:1. Convertible Debentures: These can be converted into equity shares of the issuing company after a specific period.2. Non-Convertible Debentures: They cannot be converted into equity shares and remain debt instruments throughout their tenure.3. Redeemable Debentures: They have a fixed repayment schedule and are repayable upon maturity.4. Irredeemable or Perpetual Debentures: They do not have a fixed maturity date and interest is paid indefinitely.

How are debenture interest payments taxed?

Interest earned on debentures is generally considered taxable income. The specific tax treatment may vary depending on the jurisdiction and the investor’s tax status. It’s essential to consult a tax professional for guidance on debenture-related taxes.

Can debentures be traded on the secondary market?

Yes, debentures can be bought and sold on the secondary market, just like other debt instruments such as bonds. The prices of debentures may fluctuate based on factors like interest rate changes, credit rating adjustments, or market demand, which may impact their value in the secondary market.

Related Finance Terms

  • Fixed Income Security
  • Secured Debentures
  • Unsecured Debentures
  • Credit Rating Agencies
  • Debenture Interest Rates

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