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Unsponsored ADR


An Unsponsored ADR (American Depositary Receipt) is a type of American Depositary Receipt that is issued without the direct involvement, participation, or consent of the foreign company it represents ownership in. They are set up by brokerage firms or banks in the United States that buy shares of a foreign company and issue corresponding ADRs. Unlike sponsored ADRs, they often come with fewer voting rights and less financial disclosure.


The phonetic spelling of “Unsponsored ADR” is “ʌnˈspɒnsɚd eɪ diː ɑːr”.

Key Takeaways


  1. Definition: Unsponsored ADR (American Depositary Receipt) refers to an ADR that is issued by a depository bank without any formal involvement, agreement, or even permission from the corresponding foreign company. Therefore, the foreign company has no obligation to provide financial information, disclosures, or any other support commonly associated with a sponsored ADR.
  2. Risk Factor: Because unsponsored ADRs are not directly supported by the foreign company, they tend to have limited transparency and may pose bigger risks compared to sponsored ADRs. The foreign company is under no requirement to provide financial statements, meaning investors have less information upon which to base investment decisions.
  3. Multiple Issuance: Unlike sponsored ADRs, multiple unsponsored ADRs can be created for the same company by different banks. This means that a foreign company can have a presence on multiple exchanges via various unsponsored ADRs, potentially leading to a fragmented market and inconsistent pricing.



Unsponsored ADR (American Depositary Receipt) is significant in finance because it allows international companies to reach out to American investors without having to directly comply with U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulations. These are certificates issued by an independent depositary bank, representing shares in a foreign company’s stock, but the foreign company itself has no direct involvement or control over them. It provides a means for US investors to invest in foreign companies without dealing with currency exchange, future taxation, and other regulatory challenges that come with investing in foreign stock directly. It simplifies the investing process, increasing global investment accessibility and diversification, hence, its importance in business and finance.


The purpose of Unsponsored American Depositary Receipts (ADRs) is to give investors in the United States a method to invest in foreign companies without the complexities of dealing with changes in currency values, foreign taxes, and different legal structures. These ADRs are issued by a depositary bank in the United States, but without the direct involvement, participation, or even consent of the foreign company it represents. They facilitate US investors to buy shares of these foreign companies in the form of an ADR, which can be bought and sold just like any other U.S. security. This type of ADR is beneficial for investors wanting exposure to foreign markets and diversifying their portfolios while availing the advantages of domestic trading.Unsponsored ADRs are generally used for their convenience, simplicity, and accessibility. Since they’re managed by an intermediary U.S. bank rather than the foreign company itself, they can be issued more quickly and efficiently. However, because the foreign company has no obligation to provide financial information to the depositary bank, unsponsored ADRs may come with more risk compared to their sponsored counterparts. Investors should therefore conduct due diligence before investing. Despite these risks, unsponsored ADRs can be a flexible tool for U.S. investors seeking to broaden their investment horizons and participate in foreign economic growth.


Unsponsored ADR (American Depositary Receipt) represents shares of a foreign company in the US market, traded in US dollars, and subject to American laws and regulations. It is called unsponsored because the foreign company does not directly involve itself in issuing the ADR. Here are three real-world examples:1. Nestle SA Unsponsored ADR: Nestle, the Switzerland-based multinational food and drink company, has unsponsored ADRs traded on the OTC market in the United States. These ADRs were issued without Nestle’s direct involvement.2. Roche Holding AG Unsponsored ADR: Roche, a Swiss multinational healthcare company, also has unsponsored ADRs in the American markets. Much like the Nestle example, these shares are issued without the sponsorship of Roche itself.3. Royal Dutch Shell Plc Unsponsored ADR: Royal Dutch Shell, a UK-Netherlands-based multinational oil and gas company, is yet another example. Its unsponsored ADRs are also traded on American OTC markets, created and issued without the company’s direct participation during the process.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is an Unsponsored ADR?

An Unsponsored ADR (American Depository Receipt) represents a foreign company’s equity traded on U.S. exchanges, without the direct involvement or approval of the company itself.

How is an Unsponsored ADR created?

An Unsponsored ADR is created when one or several financial institutions or depository banks purchase shares from the home market of a foreign company, and then sell those shares on US exchanges.

Is there any difference between Sponsored and Unsponsored ADRs?

Yes, a key difference between the two is that a Sponsored ADR is created with the cooperation and involvement of the foreign company. Meanwhile, an Unsponsored ADR is initiated solely by a depository bank without any direct involvement or consent of the foreign firm.

Can you explain the risks associated with Unsponsored ADRs?

Yes, the risks of Unsponsored ADRs may include less transparency as the foreign company is not obligated to adhere to U.S. GAAP guidelines or SEC regulations as they are not officially involved with the issuance. Additionally, they might carry more market risk due to potential political and economic instability in the issuing companies’ home countries.

Can any depository bank create an Unsponsored ADR?

A U.S. depository bank may create an Unsponsored ADR only if such an arrangement does not violate the laws of the company’s home country.

Are dividends from Unsponsored ADRs taxed?

Yes, dividends issued from Unsponsored ADRs are typically subject to both U.S. income tax and withholding taxes in the issuing company’s home country. However, the specifics can vary and it’s recommended to consult with a tax professional.

How are Unsponsored ADRs traded?

Unsponsored ADRs are typically traded Over-The-Counter (OTC), which means they are bought and sold through a network of brokers/dealers rather than on a centralized exchange.

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