Bonus Issue

When it comes to the world of investing and stock markets, one term that often captures the attention of both seasoned investors and newcomers is the “bonus issue.” The concept of a bonus issue is a financial maneuver that plays a significant role in shaping the landscape of a company’s shares and, in turn, the investor’s portfolio. A bonus issue, also known as a scrip issue or a capitalization issue, represents a corporate action wherein a company decides to issue additional shares to its existing shareholders, free of cost, in proportion to their existing holdings. This seemingly generous gesture by a company holds a crucial place in the financial world as it has the power to alter the dynamics of ownership, market capitalization, and the overall value of shares. It serves as a strategy employed by companies to reward shareholders, enhance liquidity, and boost the market perception of the stock. Understanding the role and importance of bonus issues is not only crucial for investors seeking to maximize their returns but also for those interested in comprehending the strategic decisions made by businesses to foster growth and competitiveness in a dynamic market environment. In this blog, we will delve into the intricacies of bonus issues and explore their vital role in the world of finance.

Bonus issues, also known as scrip issues or capitalization issues, are corporate actions where a company distributes additional shares to existing shareholders without raising additional capital. These actions serve various purposes, such as rewarding shareholders, enhancing liquidity, and signaling the company’s financial strength. The mechanics of bonus issues involve a careful decision-making process by the company’s board of directors, the determination of a bonus issue ratio, and the allocation of new shares to eligible shareholders. The regulatory framework in India, as outlined in the Companies Act, 2013, and SEBI Guidelines, ensures transparency and fairness in bonus issues. For shareholders, bonus issues can impact their portfolio diversification, tax implications, and dividend income. Despite these considerations, bonus issues offer benefits like a strengthened capital structure, increased liquidity, and a positive market signal. They also have tax advantages, foster employee retention, and broaden a company’s ownership base. In the ever-evolving landscape of investments and stock markets, understanding bonus issues is essential for informed decision-making and a deeper grasp of financial strategies.

What are bonus issues?

A bonus issue, also known as a bonus share or scrip issue, is a corporate action undertaken by a publicly traded company to increase the number of outstanding shares without raising additional capital from the market. This is essentially a distribution of free shares to existing shareholders in proportion to their current holdings. The company does not receive any cash or assets in return for these bonus shares.

The primary purpose of a bonus issue is to reward existing shareholders and enhance the liquidity of the company’s stock by increasing the number of shares in circulation. It does not affect the overall market capitalization of the company, as the value of the company remains the same, but the number of shares increases. This can lead to a decrease in the stock’s market price per share, making it more accessible to a broader range of investors. 

Bonus issues are typically announced when a company has accumulated retained earnings or reserves, and it wants to convert some of these profits into share capital. Shareholders benefit from a bonus issue by having a larger stake in the company without having to invest additional funds. In summary, a bonus issue is a non-cash corporate action aimed at rewarding existing shareholders and increasing the liquidity of a company’s stock by issuing free shares in proportion to their current holdings.

Mechanics of bonus issue

Company’s Decision-: The decision to issue bonus shares is made by the company’s board of directors. This decision typically reflects the financial health and performance of the company. It’s not an arbitrary process, as the board needs to assess whether the company has sufficient retained earnings or reserves to support the issuance of bonus shares. This decision is often made to reward shareholders for their loyalty and to boost the company’s stock market appeal. The board may also consider factors like the company’s future capital requirements and the impact of the bonus issue on the company’s overall capital structure.

Purpose-: Bonus issues serve several purposes. Firstly, they are a non-cash way for a company to reward its shareholders, which can help maintain investor confidence and loyalty. Secondly, by increasing the number of shares outstanding, bonus issues can reduce the per-share price, making the stock more accessible to a wider range of investors, especially retail investors. This can enhance the stock’s liquidity and trading volume, potentially benefiting all shareholders. Furthermore, it can be seen as a signal of the company’s financial strength and optimism about its future prospects.

Ratio and Eligibility-: The bonus issue ratio determines the number of bonus shares that shareholders will receive for each existing share they hold. This ratio is decided by the company’s board of directors and is typically expressed in a way like 1:1 (one bonus share for every one existing share). The eligibility criteria for bonus issues may vary from company to company. Some companies may offer bonus shares to all shareholders, while others might exclude certain categories, such as founders or promoters, based on company policies or regulatory requirements.

Capitalization of Reserves-: To issue bonus shares, a company uses its accumulated profits or retained earnings. These profits are converted into equity capital, effectively transforming a part of the company’s reserves into new shares. By doing so, the company does not need to spend any cash, making it a cost-effective way to reward shareholders and increase the number of outstanding shares.

Allocation-: Once the decision is made to issue bonus shares and the ratio is set, the company allocates these new shares to eligible shareholders. The allocation is usually done in proportion to the number of existing shares held by each shareholder. For example, if the bonus issue ratio is 1:1, a shareholder with 100 existing shares would receive an additional 100 bonus shares, effectively doubling their shareholding.

Impact on Share Price-: Bonus issues impact the per-share price, often causing it to decrease. This is because the total value of the company remains the same, but the number of outstanding shares increases due to the bonus issue. As a result, the earnings per share (EPS) and book value per share also decrease. However, the overall value of the shareholder’s investment remains unchanged because they receive additional shares proportional to the decrease in the per-share price.

Rights and Trading-: Shareholders who receive bonus shares have the same ownership rights as those holding regular shares. They can sell, transfer, or trade these bonus shares just like any other shares in the open market. Bonus shares do not have any restrictions on their liquidity or trading, and they participate in any future dividends or corporate actions in the same way as regular shares.

Regulatory framework

In India, the regulatory framework and legal provisions governing bonus issues are primarily outlined in the Companies Act, 2013, and the rules and regulations framed thereunder, as well as the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) Guidelines. Bonus issues, also known as “capitalization of profits,” are a way for companies to reward their shareholders by issuing additional shares without requiring any cash outflow. These provisions are essential to ensure transparency, fairness, and the protection of the interests of both the company and its shareholders.

Under the Companies Act, 2013, a company can issue bonus shares only if it has accumulated sufficient profits in its reserves and surplus. The Act specifies that these profits must be free from any encumbrances and should be distributable in the form of dividends. Moreover, the issue of bonus shares should be authorized by a resolution passed at the company’s general meeting, and the bonus issue must be offered to all existing shareholders in proportion to their existing shareholdings, ensuring equity among shareholders.

Additionally, SEBI Guidelines play a crucial role in regulating bonus issues for listed companies. SEBI mandates that any company proposing a bonus issue must disclose all relevant information to the stock exchanges and the public, including the purpose of the issue, the utilization of reserves, and the impact on the company’s financials. This ensures that investors have access to all necessary information to make informed decisions regarding their investments.

Furthermore, companies are required to comply with accounting standards and corporate governance norms when implementing bonus issues. This helps maintain the integrity of financial reporting and ensures transparency in the company’s financial statements.

In summary, the regulatory framework and legal provisions for bonus issues in India are designed to protect the interests of shareholders and promote transparency in the corporate sector. By adhering to the Companies Act, 2013, and SEBI Guidelines, companies can issue bonus shares to reward their shareholders and strengthen their financial positions while maintaining the highest standards of corporate governance and transparency. These provisions aim to strike a balance between shareholder interests and the company’s financial stability.

Impact on shareholders

Bonus issues, also known as stock dividends or scrip dividends, are corporate actions that have a significant impact on shareholders. When a company decides to issue bonus shares, it essentially distributes additional shares to its existing shareholders in proportion to their current holdings. This means that for every share a shareholder owns, they receive a certain number of bonus shares without any additional cost. This process may seem beneficial on the surface, but its effects on shareholders are multifaceted.

Firstly, bonus issues do not alter the overall value of a shareholder’s investment. Since the company’s assets remain the same, the per-share value decreases after the bonus issue. However, the shareholder’s total investment value remains unchanged, assuming that the stock price adjusts accordingly.

Secondly, bonus issues can affect a shareholder’s portfolio diversification. With an increase in the number of shares, a shareholder’s portfolio may become more concentrated in the issuing company, potentially exposing them to greater risk if the company underperforms.

Additionally, bonus issues may have tax implications. In some jurisdictions, the receipt of bonus shares can be treated as a taxable event, and shareholders might need to pay taxes on the fair market value of the bonus shares received.

Furthermore, bonus issues can affect a shareholder’s ability to receive cash dividends. Since dividends are typically paid on a per-share basis, an increase in the number of shares may result in smaller cash dividend payments per share, although the total dividend income may remain the same.

Bonus issues can have several consequences for shareholders, ranging from changes in portfolio composition to potential tax considerations and altered dividend income. Understanding the implications of a bonus issue is essential for shareholders to make informed investment decisions.

Considerations and implications

Purpose of Bonus Issue-: Bonus issues are typically carried out by companies to achieve various objectives. They serve as a way to reward existing shareholders without affecting the company’s cash position. It can also enhance the liquidity of the company’s shares in the market, making them more attractive to investors. Moreover, bonus issues are often employed to optimize the company’s capital structure by capitalizing profits and reserves.

Tax on Bonus Shares-: Bonus shares are generally exempt from capital gains tax at the time of issuance. This is because the issuance of bonus shares is considered a transfer of accumulated profits or reserves within the company to the shareholders, rather than a transfer of ownership or consideration. As a result, shareholders do not incur any tax liability when they receive bonus shares.

Cost Basis Adjustment-: When a company issues bonus shares, the cost basis for the original shares is adjusted. This adjustment is done by allocating the cost of the original shares over the total number of shares, including both the original and the bonus shares. The objective is to ensure that the overall investment cost remains the same, and any future capital gains or losses are calculated based on this adjusted cost.

Dividend Distribution Tax (DDT)-: Unlike regular dividends, bonus shares do not attract Dividend Distribution Tax (DDT). DDT is a tax levied on the distribution of dividends by companies to their shareholders. Since bonus shares are not considered a distribution of profits in the form of dividends but rather a capitalization of reserves, they are exempt from DDT.

Long-term Capital Gains (LTCG) Tax-: When a shareholder eventually sells bonus shares, they are subject to Long-term Capital Gains (LTCG) tax if held for more than 12 months. The gains are taxed at a reduced rate, typically with indexation benefits that help adjust the purchase price for inflation, resulting in lower tax liability.

Short-term Capital Gains (STCG) Tax-: If bonus shares are sold within 12 months of acquisition, any profit generated is treated as Short-term Capital Gains (STCG). STCG is subject to a higher tax rate compared to LTCG, making it important for shareholders to consider the holding period when planning the sale of bonus shares.

Disclosure and Reporting-: Shareholders must ensure proper disclosure of bonus shares in their income tax returns, accurately accounting for the adjusted cost basis. Additionally, companies must comply with regulatory and reporting requirements for bonus issues as outlined in the Companies Act and guidelines set forth by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI). Compliance with these regulations is essential to ensure the legality and transparency of bonus share issuances. Consulting with a tax advisor or financial expert is recommended to navigate the complexities of tax implications and compliance associated with bonus issues in India.


Enhanced Capital Structure-: A strong capital structure is crucial for a company’s financial health and long-term sustainability. Bonus issues allow companies to bolster their capital structure without resorting to external financing or debt. By capitalizing on retained earnings, a company can increase its equity base, which in turn provides a cushion against financial downturns and makes it more attractive to investors and creditors.

Increased Liquidity-: Liquidity is essential in the stock market as it ensures that investors can easily buy and sell shares without significant price fluctuations. Bonus issues increase the number of outstanding shares, making them more accessible to a broader range of investors. This increased liquidity not only benefits shareholders but also makes the company’s stock more attractive to institutional investors and can potentially result in a higher trading volume and price stability.

Positive Signaling-: Bonus issues convey a positive message to the market and investors. When a company announces a bonus issue, it implies that the management is confident in the company’s future prospects, earnings growth, and financial stability. This positive signal can boost investor confidence and attract new shareholders, as they interpret the move as a sign of a well-managed and financially sound company.

No Cash Outflow-: One of the most significant advantages of bonus issues is that they do not require a company to allocate cash for distributing additional shares. This is particularly valuable when a company’s cash reserves are limited or when management wants to reinvest available funds in growth opportunities. By utilizing retained earnings, a company can reward shareholders without depleting its cash resources.

Tax Efficiency-: In India, bonus issues are generally not subject to capital gains tax for shareholders. This tax efficiency is a considerable advantage for investors, as it means they can receive additional shares without incurring a tax liability. It also makes bonus issues an attractive option for companies seeking to reward their shareholders without causing tax-related concerns.

Employee Retention-: Companies can use bonus issues as an effective tool for retaining and incentivizing employees. By granting bonus shares as part of employee compensation packages, businesses can align the interests of employees with those of the company. This can foster a sense of ownership and commitment among employees, motivating them to work towards the company’s long-term success.

Broadened Ownership Base-: Bonus issues help broaden the ownership base of a company, making its shares accessible to a wider range of investors. This can lead to a more diversified shareholder base, reducing the concentration of ownership in the hands of a few investors or institutions. A diverse ownership base can enhance corporate governance and minimize the influence of any single shareholder or group, promoting transparency and long-term stability.

Bonus issues represent a significant and multifaceted strategy within the world of finance, allowing companies to reward their loyal shareholders, strengthen their capital structures, and send positive signals to the market. These corporate actions, governed by stringent regulatory frameworks in countries like India, are designed to maintain fairness and transparency while promoting investor confidence and liquidity in the stock market. Bonus issues serve as a win-win proposition, offering tax-efficient benefits to shareholders and providing companies with a cost-effective means of enhancing their equity base. They also play a vital role in broadening a company’s ownership base, promoting long-term sustainability, and incentivizing employees. Understanding the intricacies of bonus issues is essential for both investors seeking to maximize their returns and those interested in comprehending the strategic decisions made by businesses in dynamic market environments. As investors navigate the complex landscape of the stock market, bonus issues stand as a powerful tool that bridges the interests of companies and shareholders, contributing to the vibrancy and resilience of the financial world.

G Akshay Associates