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Secured bonds

Category — Bond Types
By Konstantin Vasilev Member of the Board of Directors of Cbonds, Ph.D. in Economics
Updated August 06, 2023

What are secured bonds?

A secured bond is an investment in debt backed by a designated asset that the issuer owns, providing added security to investors. This asset acts as collateral, ensuring that the bondholders gain ownership of the asset if the issuer fails to meet its obligations.

The following bond can serve as an example of this type of security: BayernLB, 0.85% 19jun2028, EUR

Additionally, secured bonds can be supported by a revenue stream generated from the project financed by the bond issue, further safeguarding the investment and enhancing its stability.

Secured bonds

What assets typically back secured bonds?

Secured bonds are typically backed by specific assets that serve as collateral to protect bondholders in case the issuer defaults. These assets can take various forms, including:

  • Inventory. Goods or products held by the issuer that can be sold to repay the bondholders if necessary.

  • Plant and Equipment. Physical assets like machinery, vehicles, or manufacturing facilities that can be sold or utilized to generate income for bondholders.

  • Real Estate. Properties owned by the issuer can be sold or leased to cover bond obligations in the event of a default.

  • Accounts Receivable. Money owed to the issuer by its customers, which can be collected and used to repay bondholders.

  • Cash Reserves. Money set aside by the issuer as a reserve to cover potential bond defaults.

Types and issuers of secured bonds

Secured bonds are a type of investment in debt that offers added security to bondholders because specific assets or cash flows back them. Here are some key points about the types and issuers of secured bonds:

Types of secured bonds

  1. Mortgage Bonds. These bonds are secured by a mortgage on real estate or property owned by the issuer. If the issuer defaults, bondholders have a claim on the underlying property to recover their investment. If the issuer possesses enough cash, instead of selling the underlying assets it may use the cash to repay the first mortgage bondholders before other creditors.

  2. Equipment Trust Certificates. These bonds are secured by specific movable assets owned by the issuer. In case of default, bondholders may gain ownership of the equipment to compensate for their losses.

  3. Mortgage-Backed Securities (MBS). These are bonds that represent ownership in a pool of mortgages. The cash flow from mortgage payments serves as collateral, and the value of the MBS is tied to the performance of the underlying mortgages.

Issuers of secured bonds

  1. Corporations. Companies may issue secured bonds to raise capital for expansion or specific projects. The bonds are secured by the company’s assets or cash flows.

  2. Municipalities. Local governments issue secured bonds to fund infrastructure projects, schools, or other public initiatives, with the revenue generated by the project serving as collateral.

  3. Government Agencies. Certain government agencies may issue secured bonds to finance specific programs or projects.

  4. Financial Institutions. Banks and other financial institutions may also issue secured bonds, using assets such as mortgages or other loans as collateral.

How do secured bonds work

An asset acts as collateral for the loan, and if the issuer defaults on the bond, ownership of the asset is transferred to the bondholders.

For instance, mortgage-backed securities (MBS) rely on the titles to the borrowers’ homes and the income stream from mortgage payments. Should the issuer fail to make timely interest and principal payments, investors have the right to claim the underlying assets as repayment.

However, there is a risk of loss if the value of the collateral decreases or if it becomes difficult to sell the asset while in the possession of bond investors. Legal challenges that impede the liquidation process of the assets may also contribute to potential losses.

Unsecured bonds do not have specific collateral backing, relying solely on the creditworthiness of the issuing entity. In contrast, secured bonds provide additional security as designated assets back them.

In the secondary market, bondholders can trade their bonds with other investors, providing liquidity and flexibility in bond investments.

Overall, secured bonds offer added protection to investors, aligning with their financial goals, while unsecured bonds carry higher risks due to the absence of any specific collateral.

Risks and benefits associated with investing in secured bonds

Risks associated with investing in secured bonds

  1. Credit Risk. While secured bonds offer lower credit risk compared to unsecured bonds, the issuer can default on their obligations. If the issuer becomes financially distressed and cannot fulfill its payments, bondholders may face losses even with the collateral in place.

  2. Liquidity Risk. Secured bonds may be less liquid than some other investment options, especially in the case of smaller or less actively traded bond issues. If an investor needs to sell his bond quickly, he might face challenges finding a buyer, potentially leading to a lower selling price.

  3. Collateral Value Risk. The value of the collateral securing the bond may fluctuate over time, and if it declines significantly, it may not fully cover the bondholder’s investment in the event of default.

  4. Interest Rate Risk. Changes in interest rates can affect the value of bonds in the market. If interest rates rise, the value of existing bonds with lower interest rates may decline. This is relevant when considering selling the bond before its maturity.

  5. Market Risk. Like all investments, secured bonds are subject to general market fluctuations influenced by economic conditions, geopolitical events, and investor sentiment. These factors can impact the bond’s market price and overall returns.

Benefits associated with investing in secured bonds

  1. Reduced Credit Risk. Secured bonds provide an additional layer of security since specific assets or cash flows back them. This reduces the risk of bondholders losing their entire investment in case of issuer default.

  2. Steady Income. Secured bonds generally offer a predictable income stream through regular interest payments, providing investors with a stable source of income.

  3. Lower Interest Rate Risk. Secured bonds typically have less interest rate risk compared to unsecured bonds since their lower interest rates are less sensitive to changes in market interest rates.

  4. Potential Capital Appreciation. If the bondholder holds the bond until maturity, they will receive the full face value of the bond (assuming no default occurred). This provides the potential for capital appreciation over time.

  5. Credible Issuers. Secured bonds are often issued by reputable entities, such as established companies, municipalities, or government agencies, which can provide an additional a level of confidence in the investment.

The difference between secured and unsecured bonds

Unsecured bonds (Debentures)

  • Security. Unsecured bonds are issued without any specific assets or collateral to back them. They rely solely on the creditworthiness and reputation of the issuing company to attract investors.

  • Investor Risk. Since there is no specific asset securing the bond, investors in unsecured bonds have a higher level of risk. In the event of issuer default, bondholders have no direct claim to specific assets and may have a lower chance of recovering their investment.

Secured bonds

  • Security. Secured bonds, also known as mortgage bonds in some cases, are backed by the borrower’s collateral or specified assets. This collateral provides an added layer of security to bondholders, reducing the risk associated with the investment.

  • Investor Protection. In secured bonds, if the issuer defaults on their obligations, bondholders have a claim on the specified collateral or assets. This means that investors have a better chance of recovering at least a portion of their investment.


  • How often do issuer defaults happen?

  • What is an example of a secured bond?

  • What types of bonds are unsecured?

  • Are secured bonds always safer than unsecured bonds?

  • What are secured and unsecured bail bonds?

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