Corporate Accounting

Difference Between Shares and Debentures

While both shares and debentures represent ownership in a company, they differ substantially in their characteristics.

Shares and debentures are essential components of the capital structure of a company that help it raise funds for business operations.

In this article, we will explore the fundamental differences between shares and debentures that every investor should know before investing their money in these securities.

Ownership and Risk

Shares and debentures are both investment options for individuals looking to invest in businesses. However, there is a significant difference between the two when it comes to ownership and risk. Shareholders own a portion of the company, which means they have some control over how the business is run. They also share in the profits of the company through dividends.

Debenture holders, on the other hand, do not own any part of the business. Instead, they lend money to the company in exchange for interest payments over time. They are essentially lending their money as a form of investment with no ownership or control over how the business is managed.

While shareholders have more control and potentially higher rewards through company growth and dividends, they also bear more risk if things go wrong. If a company goes bankrupt or fails to perform well financially, shareholders may lose their entire investment or see their shares significantly decrease in value.

Debenture holders face less risk since they receive fixed interest payments regardless of how well or poorly a company performs financially. However, they also face less potential reward since they do not share in any profits gained by the business’s success. Ultimately, deciding whether to invest in shares or debentures depends on an individual’s risk tolerance and financial goals.

Payment and Returns

Shareholders typically receive dividends, which are payments made by a company to its shareholders out of the profits it has earned. These payments can be made at regular intervals or as a one-time payment. Dividends are usually paid in cash but can also be paid in the form of additional shares. On the other hand, debenture holders receive interest payments instead of dividends. Debentures are essentially loans that investors make to a company, and as such, they earn interest on their investment just like they would with any other type of loan. The interest rate is agreed upon when the debenture is issued and remains fixed for the duration of its term.

In terms of returns, shareholders have the potential to earn higher returns if the company performs well and increases its profits over time. However, there is also more risk involved since share prices can fluctuate greatly depending on market conditions and other factors outside of the company’s control. Meanwhile, debenture holders have a more predictable stream of income but may miss out on potential gains if the company performs exceptionally well.

Also Read: What is a Promissory Note?


Shareholders are free to sell or transfer their shares to other investors without any restrictions. This means that if a shareholder needs cash, they can easily sell some or all of their shares to raise funds. In addition, shareholders can trade their shares on stock exchanges, which provides them with access to a large pool of potential buyers and sellers.

On the other hand, debentures are less easily transferable than shares. This is because debentures are essentially loans made by investors to companies, and as such they come with certain restrictions on transferability. For example, some debentures may not be transferrable at all, while others may require the approval of the company issuing them before they can be sold or transferred.

Despite this limitation on transferability, debentures still have some advantages over shares for investors looking for a more stable investment option. With debentures, investors receive a fixed rate of interest over the life of the loan and have priority over shareholders in terms of receiving payments in the event that the company runs into financial difficulties.

Voting Rights

Shares represent ownership in a company, while debentures are essentially loans taken by a company from investors. One key difference between these two is that shareholders have voting power, while debenture holders do not.

As owners of the company, shareholders have the right to elect the board of directors and influence major decisions affecting the business. They can vote on important matters such as mergers and acquisitions, changes to articles of incorporation or bylaws, and executive compensation packages. Shareholders typically receive one vote per share they own.

On the other hand, debenture holders do not have any voting rights within the company. Although they may be entitled to regular interest payments on their investment over time, they do not hold any ownership stake in the business nor do they get a say in how it operates. The value of their investment is based solely on whether or not the company can meet its debt obligations and repay its initial investment at maturity.


In conclusion, shares and debentures differ in multiple aspects. Firstly, shares represent ownership in a company where shareholders are entitled to receive dividends as a reward for their investment. On the other hand, debentures are similar to loans where the investor is promised a fixed rate of interest on their investment.

Secondly, shares are transferable by selling them in the stock market whereas debentures cannot be sold on the stock exchange as they have no public market. Debenture holders can only sell their holdings privately to another party or surrender them back to the issuer at maturity.

Lastly, shareholders have voting rights and can participate in decision-making processes during shareholder meetings while debenture holders do not possess any voting rights. In summary, understanding these differences between shares and debentures is important for investors looking to diversify their portfolios or companies seeking to raise capital through either method.

Show More

Leave a Reply