Although it is rare, companies and governments do issue bonds that exceed an average person's life expectancy. For example, multi-billion dollar companies such as the Walt Disney Company (DIS) and Coca-Cola (KO) have issued 100-year bonds in the past.
Many of these bonds and debentures contain an option that lets the debt issuer partially or fully repay the debt long before the scheduled maturity. For example, the 100-year bond that Disney issued in 1993 was suppose to mature in 2093, but the company can start repaying the bonds any time after 30 years (2023).
Countries such as Argentina, Austria and Mexico have recently issued 100-year bonds, and there has been talk of them being considered in the United States in the future as well.
Why Long-Term Bonds Are Attractive for Some Investors
Companies issue bonds with long maturities because the goal of any business is to profit from the market's demand. When it comes to 100-year bonds, there is a group of investors that have shown a strong demand for these bonds. Specifically, certain institutional investors use 100-year bonds to lengthen the duration of their bond portfolios to fulfill certain duration-based goals.
Some analysts see the demand for this type of long-term bond as an indicator of consumer sentiment for a specific company. After all, who would buy a 100-year bond from a company they didn't believe would last? For example, if there was especially high demand for Disney's 100-year bond, this could mean that many people believe that the company will still be around to pay out the bond a century later.
Believe it not, 1,000-year bonds also exist. A few issuers (such as the Canadian Pacific Corporation) have issued such bonds in the past. There have also been instances of bonds issued with no maturity date, meaning that they continue paying coupon payments forever.
(To learn more about bonds and duration, see Advanced Bond Concepts.)