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Depositary Receipt


A depositary receipt is a negotiable financial instrument issued by a bank to represent a foreign company’s publicly traded securities. It allows investors to hold shares in the company without the complexities of dealing with foreign markets and currencies. The most common types of depositary receipts are American Depositary Receipts (ADRs) and Global Depositary Receipts (GDRs).


The phonetic pronunciation of “Depositary Receipt” is: / dɪˈpɒzɪtəri rɪˈsiːt /

Key Takeaways

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  1. Depositary Receipts (DRs) represent ownership in the shares of a foreign company and are a way for individuals to invest in these companies. They are issued by a bank and can be listed on stock exchanges and traded like regular stocks.

  2. There are different types of Depositary Receipts such as American Depositary Receipts (ADRs) for U.S. investors, Global Depositary Receipts (GDRs) for international investors, and European Depositary Receipts (EDRs) for European investors. Each type caters to the specific needs and legislation of different markets.

  3. Investing in Depositary Receipts provide benefits like diversification of portfolio by giving access to foreign markets. However, they also come with risks related to currency exchange and political chaos in the foreign country.



Depositary Receipts are an important term in business and finance as they represent a significant strategy for companies and investors alike to engage in the global market. They are negotiable certificates issued by a bank indicating a foreign company’s publicly traded securities. Companies can use Depositary Receipts to raise their international profile, obtain capital from foreign markets, and to offer benefits to their overseas employees. For investors, Depositary Receipts simplify the process of investing in foreign firms, as they can be bought and sold in their local exchange just like any other local securities. Therefore, Depositary Receipts facilitate both global investment opportunities for investors and capital acquisition possibilities for businesses, making them particularly significant in a financially interconnected world.


A depositary receipt (DR) serves a significant purpose in the global financial ecosystem by enabling investors to hold shares in equity of foreign countries. It is a negotiable financial instrument issued by a bank to represent a foreign company’s publicly traded securities. This allows investors to buy shares in that company’s home exchange without the risk and complexities associated with investing directly in foreign stock exchanges.Furthermore, depositary receipts facilitate domestic investors in trading of particular foreign securities. This ordinarily complex process can be tricky due to differences in regulations or the difficulty in trading at foreign exchanges. With the establishment of DRs, these impediments are mitigated. Additionally, they also offer financial professionals with an expanded suite of investment vehicles that allow a more diversified range of geographies, industries and asset types. This thereby provides an easier and more fluid way for investors and companies to gain access to global markets.


1. Alibaba’s Initial Public Offering (IPO): In 2014, the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba made history when it had a record-breaking $25 billion IPO in New York. Since Chinese companies are not allowed to be listed directly on foreign stock exchanges, Alibaba used an American Depositary Receipt (ADR), which is a type of depositary receipt. This allowed them to list their shares on the NYSE and made it possible for investors in the United States to invest in Alibaba without having to go through China’s stock exchanges.2. BP’s shares in the United States: BP (British Petroleum) is a British multinational oil and gas company headquartered in London, England. However, US investors can invest in the company through American Depositary Receipts (ADRs). These ADRs represent the BP shares that are actually held by the depositary bank in the UK.3. Takeda Pharmaceutical Company: This is a Japanese multinational pharmaceutical company and is also the largest pharmaceutical company in Asia. It has its primary listing on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. However, it also has secondary listings on the NYSE in the form of American Depositary Shares (ADS), which is a type of depositary receipt. This ADS allows U.S. investors to invest in Takeda shares without dealing with the complexities of buying shares directly from Tokyo Stock Exchange.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is a Depositary Receipt?

A Depositary Receipt is a financial instrument representing a foreign company’s shares, traded on exchanges outside the company’s home country. It allows investors to invest in these companies without dealing with the complexities of trading on foreign markets.

What are the types of Depositary Receipts?

The most common types of Depositary Receipts are American Depositary Receipts (ADRs) traded in the U.S. and Global Depositary Receipts (GDRs) traded in Europe.

What is the main purpose of a Depositary Receipt?

The primary purpose of a Depositary Receipt is to make it easier for investors to invest in foreign companies. It eliminates issues such as dealing with foreign currency conversions, legal differences, and other complexities that come with international investments.

How are Depositary Receipts created?

Depositary Receipts are created when a foreign company decides to list its shares on a foreign exchange. The company deposits its shares with a depositary bank in the foreign country. In return, the bank issues receipts for these shares, which can then be traded on the local exchange.

How are Depositary Receipts priced?

The pricing of Depositary Receipts generally reflects the home market price of the underlying shares. However, the price can be influenced by factors such as exchange rates, demand for the DRs, and changes in the investor’s perception of the company’s value.

Are Depositary Receipts the same as shares?

While Depositary Receipts represent ownership in a company’s shares, they are not the shares themselves. Holding a Depositary Receipt gives you the right to the underlying shares, but the shares are still held by the depositary bank.

What are the risks involved in investing in Depositary Receipts?

As with any investment, Depositary Receipts carry risk. These include foreign currency risk, market risk, and the risk that the company will not perform as expected. Before investing, it’s important to thoroughly research the company and consider the potential risks.

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