A bond indenture is a legal document or contract between the bond issuer and the bondholder that records the obligations of the bond issuer and benefits owed to the bondholder. The bond indenture also includes the details of the rights of ownership as well as the rights of the bondholder to receive interest payments and principle payments in the future.
The bond indenture is created during the bond issuing process when bond issuers are receiving approval from state and federal governments to issue bonds to the public. After an agreed upon amount of bonds is authorized by the applicable government agency, the company issuing the bonds must contract a bond indenture.
Don't get the terms indenture and debenture confused. A bond indenture is the contract between the bond issuer and the bondholder. A bond debenture is simply and unsecured bond.
Bond indentures are not issued to individual bondholders. It would be pretty impractical for a company to try to enter into a contract with every single bondholder. That is why the bond indenture is actually issued to a trustee or third party that represents the bondholders. The trustee is most often a bank or some other financial institution. If the company breaks the agreement set forth in the bond indenture, the trustee can sue the company on behave of the bondholders.
The bondholders can also voice complaints to the trust in an effort to raise legal action against the issuing company.
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