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American Depositary Receipt (ADR)


An American Depositary Receipt (ADR) is a negotiable certificate issued by a U.S. bank representing a specified number of shares in a foreign stock traded on a U.S. exchange. ADRs are a way for American investors to own foreign stocks without the inconvenience of dealing with overseas regulations or currency conversions. Each ADR represents one or more shares of a foreign company or a fraction of a share.


The phonetics for “American Depositary Receipt (ADR)” are: ə-mɛr-ɪ-kən dɪ-pɒz-ɪ-t(ə-)ri rɪ-sipt(eɪ-di-aɹ)

Key Takeaways

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  1. International Trading: ADRs make it easier for American investors to invest in foreign companies, as they eliminate the complexities of buying shares in overseas markets. They are financial instruments that are traded directly on U.S. exchanges.
  2. Dividend and Currency Considerations: ADRs can pay dividends, but these are typically in the currency of the home country, and are converted to U.S. dollars for American investors. It is important for investors to be aware of foreign exchange risk as the value of dividends can fluctuate along with currency rates.
  3. Risks and Regulations: ADRs are subject to the regulatory standards of both the home country and the U.S., which can affect their performance. Additionally, there may be specific political or economic risks associated with investing in a particular foreign country’s ADR.

“`These points should give a clear view of how ADRs work, their benefits, and the risks they carry.


American Depositary Receipts (ADR) play a crucial role in global finance and international investing by providing a vehicle for non-U.S. companies to list their shares in the United States. ADRs enable investors to purchase shares of foreign companies without bearing the complications of dealing in foreign currencies and overseas stock exchanges. As a result, these instruments allow investors to diversify their portfolios with assets from economies worldwide. They also open up opportunities for foreign companies by providing them access to a wider pool of potential investors, significantly enhancing their ability to raise capital. Moreover, they provide additional liquidity as they are traded exactly like regular stocks on American exchanges. Therefore, the use of ADRs is a vital aspect of an increasingly interconnected global financial system.


The American Depositary Receipt (ADR) serves a critical purpose in the global financial landscape by facilitating American investors’ participation in foreign companies. Essentially, it enables U.S. investors to buy shares in foreign companies without the need to deal with the complexities of cross-border & cross-currency transactions. This method makes it significantly easier and more appealing for American investors to diversify their portfolio with investments in companies outside of the U.S., thereby providing both retail and institutional investors with a wider scope of investment opportunities.ADRs have a profound impact on global investment and portfolio diversification. They contribute to fostering global economic integration and allowing geographically diverse businesses to access liquidity and capital from the most powerful economy in the world. From a business perspective, foreign companies can get recognized and raise capital in the U.S market through ADRs. This leads to enhanced visibility and presence for these foreign companies in the U.S., empowering further expansion and growth.


1. Alibaba Group Holding Limited (BABA): Alibaba, a multinational conglomerate based in China that specializes in e-commerce, technology, and a variety of other sectors, is a perfect real-world example of an ADR. In 2014, the company conducted its Initial Public Offering (IPO) on the New York Stock Exchange using ADRs, which has become one of the largest IPOs in history. US investors who wanted to invest in Alibaba could easily do so by buying these ADRs without having to go through the complexities of buying overseas stocks.2. British Petroleum (BP): This multinational oil and gas company is based in London, but American investors can purchase BP’s ADRs on the New York Stock Exchange. By issuing ADRs, BP was able to extend its reach to potential American investors, thereby broadening its shareholder base.3. Baidu, Inc. (BIDU): This is another prominent Chinese internet company that uses the ADR mechanism. Through this, it is able to list on the NASDAQ, which gives American and global investors access to its shares without directly using the Chinese stock market. This allows these investors to diversify their portfolios with foreign assets without dealing with foreign transaction issues.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is an American Depositary Receipt (ADR)?

An American Depositary Receipt (ADR) is a certificate issued by a U.S. bank that represents shares in a foreign company’s stocks. It enables U.S. investors to trade these shares in U.S. markets.

What is the purpose of an ADR?

The primary purpose of ADRs is to simplify the process of purchasing shares in foreign companies, which could otherwise be difficult and expensive. They also offer a way for foreign companies to increase their visibility and gain access to U.S. markets.

Where are ADRs traded?

ADRs are traded on U.S. stock markets, such as the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) or the NASDAQ.

What types of ADRs exist?

There are three types of ADRs: Level I, Level II, and Level III. Each one has varying degrees of accessibility and requirements.

What is the difference between an ADR and a common stock?

While both represent ownership in a company, a common stock is a stake in a domestic company, while an ADR represents ownership in a foreign company traded on U.S. exchanges.

How can an investor buy and sell ADRs?

ADRs can be bought and sold through a brokerage account, like any other U.S. security.

How do dividends work with ADRs?

If the foreign company pays dividends, those earnings are also paid out to ADR shareholders. However, they are typically paid in the local currency and may be subject to foreign tax laws.

What are some risks and benefits associated with ADRs?

ADRs provide diversification by allowing easy investment in foreign companies. However, risks include exchange rate risk and differences in corporate governance standards.

How are ADRs taxed?

While ADRs are traded on U.S. exchanges, their tax treatment depends on local and international tax agreements. It’s always recommended to consult a specialized tax advisor for such matters.

: What is the role of a depositary bank in an ADR?

A depositary bank issues the ADRs and undertakes the responsibility of transferring dividends and handling stock splits or other issuer events.

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