Depositary Receipt

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DEFINITION of 'Depositary Receipt'

A negotiable financial instrument issued by a bank to represent a foreign company's publicly traded securities. A depository receipt trades on a local stock exchange, but a custodian bank in the foreign country holds the actual shares. Depository receipts can be sponsored or unsponsored depending on whether the company that issued the shares enters into an agreement with the custodian bank that issues the depository receipt.

INVESTOPEDIA EXPLAINS 'Depositary Receipt'

Two common forms of depository receipts are the American Depository Receipt (ADR) and Global Depository Receipt (GDR). An ADR is listed and traded on exchanges based in the United States, while a GDR can be traded on established non-U.S. markets such as London and Singapore.

When a foreign listed company wants to create a depository receipt abroad, it follows a standard process. The firm will likely hire a financial advisor to help it navigate regulations, and will then choose a domestic custodian bank. A broker in the target country will purchase shares of the firm in the country where the firm is located, and then the domestic bank will register the shares on behalf of the broker. The bank then issues the depository receipt to the broker. The broker can have the shares listed on a local exchange, such as the NYSE, as an ADR.

For example, a firm based in Kenya looking to list shares in the United States through an ADR will pick a Kenyan bank to serve as a custodian of the firm’s shares. Once the bank is chosen, the firm will decide how many shares will be represented by the depository receipt, referred to as the depository receipt ratio, and will find an American broker willing to purchase the shares to be held by the custodian bank. Once the bank issues depository receipts, the American broker can sell those shares domestically.

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  1. Does a company's American depositary share equal one share of common stock?

    American depositary shares (ADS) come into play when a foreign company wants its shares to trade on a major American exchange. ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Is there a difference between ADR and ADS?

    American depositary receipts (ADRs) allow foreign equities to be traded on U.S. stock exchanges; in fact, this is how the ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What parties are involved in the creation of an American depositary receipt?

    An American depositary receipt (ADR) is a legal certificate issued by a recognized U.S. bank that represents a specific number ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Why are big foreign companies considering delisting their American depositary receipts?

    American depositary receipts (ADRs) were developed to give investors an easier way to invest in foreign companies. An ADR ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What is the difference between a green field and a brown field investment?

    Green-field and brown-field investments are two different types of foreign direct investment, or FDI. Green-field investments ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What does it mean when a country has little activity in its capital account?

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