What is a Debenture?
A Debenture is a debt security issued by a company (called the Issuer), which offers to pay interest in lieu of the money borrowed for a certain period. In essence it represents a loan taken by the issuer who pays an agreed rate of interest during the lifetime of the instrument and repays the principal normally, unless otherwise agreed, on maturity.
These are long-term debt instruments issued by private sector companies. These are issued in denominations as low as Rs 1000 and have maturities ranging between one and ten years. Long maturity debentures are rarely issued, as investors are not comfortable with such maturities
Debentures enable investors to reap the dual benefits of adequate security and good returns. Unlike other fixed income instruments such as Fixed Deposits, Bank Deposits they can be transferred from one party to another by using transfer from. Debentures are normally issued in physical form. However, corporates/PSUs have started issuing debentures in Demat form. Generally, debentures are less liquid as compared to PSU bonds and their liquidity is inversely proportional to the residual maturity. Debentures can be secured or unsecured.
What are the different types of debentures?
Debentures are divided into different categories on the basis of: (1)convertibility of the instrument (2) Security
Debentures can be classified on the basis of convertibility into:
· Non Convertible Debentures (NCD): These instruments retain the debt character and can not be converted in to equity shares
· Partly Convertible Debentures (PCD): A part of these instruments are converted into Equity shares in the future at notice of the issuer. The issuer decides the ratio for conversion. This is normally decided at the time of subscription.
· Fully convertible Debentures (FCD): These are fully convertible into Equity shares at the issuer's notice. The ratio of conversion is decided by the issuer. Upon conversion the investors enjoy the same status as ordinary shareholders of the company.
· Optionally Convertible Debentures.. (OCD): The investor has the option to either convert these debentures into shares at price decided by the issuer/agreed upon at the time of issue.
On basis of Security, debentures are classified into:
· Secured Debentures: These instruments are secured by a charge on the fixed assets of the issuer company. So if the issuer fails on payment of either the principal or interest amount, his assets can be sold to repay the liability to the investors
· Unsecured Debentures: These instrument are unsecured in the sense that if the issuer defaults on payment of the interest or principal amount, the investor has to be along with other unsecured creditors of the company
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