All you want to know about American Depository Receipt (ADR).

All you want to know about American Depository Receipt (ADR).

An American depositary receipt (ADR) is a negotiable certificate issued by a U.S. depositary bank, representing a specific number of shares of a foreign company's stock (usually one share). The ADR trades on US stock exchanges like any other domestic stock. ADRs allow American investors to buy stock of foreign companies that would otherwise be unavailable to them. Foreign companies profit as well, because ADRs allow them to attract American investors and capital without having to go through the difficulty and expense of listing on US stock exchanges.


How does American depositary receipt (ADR) work?

Depositary receipts in the United States are denominated in US dollars. A U.S. financial institution is usually a foreign branch, that holds the underlying security. Holders of ADRs do not need to deal in foreign currency or worry about currency exchange on the forex market. These securities are priced, traded, and cleared in US dollars using US settlement channels.

The shares on a foreign exchange must be purchased by U.S. bank before it starts offering ADRs. The share is held as an inventory by the bank, and an ADR is issued for domestic trade. ADRs are traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) or the Nasdaq, but they can also be bought and sold over-the-counter (OTC).

Foreign corporations must submit thorough financial information to the American institutions. This criterion makes assessing a company's financial health easier for American investors.


What are the types of American depositary receipts (ADR)?

There are two types of American depositary receipts:

  • On behalf of the foreign corporation, a bank issues a sponsored ADR. A legal agreement is done between the bank and the company. In most cases, the foreign firm pays the costs of creating an ADR and keeps ownership of it, while the bank handles investor transactions. Sponsored ADRs are classified according to how closely the foreign firm adheres to Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) standards and accounting procedures in the United States.

  • A bank also issues an unsponsored ADR. On the other side, the foreign corporation, has got no direct role, participation, or even approval in the certificate. There might theoretically be multiple unsponsored ADRs issued by various US banks for the same overseas company. These various options may also have differing dividends. With sponsored programs, there is only one ADR, which is issued by the foreign company's bank.

One of the most significant distinctions between the two types of ADRs is where they are traded. All sponsored ADRs are registered with the SEC and traded on major U.S. stock exchanges. While, the ADRs that are not sponsored will be traded over the counter. In unsponsored ADRs, there are no voting rights.


American depositary receipt (ADR) Levels

ADRs are also divided into three levels, depending on how well a foreign business has tapped into the American market:

Level I: This is the most basic level of ADR, and it is used when international companies do not qualify for or do not want their ADR to be listed on an exchange. This sort of ADR is suitable for establishing a trading presence but not for raising funds. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has the most lax regulations for Level I ADRs, which are only available on the over-the counter market and are often highly speculative. While they carry a higher risk for investors than other types of ADRs, they are a simple and inexpensive way for a foreign firm to test investor interest in its securities in the United States.

Level II: These are similar to Level I ADRs, they can be used to establish a trading presence on a stock exchange but cannot be used to raise funds. The SEC imposes slightly more criteria on Level II ADRs than on Level I ADRs, but they enjoy more visibility and trading volume.

Level III: The most prestigious ADRs are Level III ADRs. An issuer uses these to launch an ADR public offering on a U.S. exchange. They can be utilised to create a significant trading presence in the United States' financial markets as well as raise funds for the foreign issuer. Issuers must file a comprehensive report with the SEC.

Advantages of American depositary receipt (ADR)

The advantages of American depositary receipt (ADR) are as follows:

  • The American investor has the option of investing in international enterprises that will provide him with larger returns.

  • Companies with headquarters in other countries can register on the American Stock Exchange and have their shares traded in two nations.

  • Currency fluctuations are also counted as an advantage.

  • Because there are no limits on investing in ADR, it is a simpler way to invest in overseas companies.

  • ADR makes tax calculations easier. Trading in ADRs of foreign firm shares would result in taxation in the United States rather than the company's home country.

  • ADR shares of overseas corporations are often less expensive. As a result, it benefits investors even more.

Disadvantages of American depositary receipt (ADR)

The Disadvantages of American depositary receipt (ADR) are as follows:

  • Even if ADR transactions are conducted in US dollars, they are nevertheless subject to the risk of foreign exchange fluctuation.

  • There are a limited number of opportunities to invest in overseas companies. Only a few businesses believe it is necessary to register with ADR, this restricts the investment options open to US investors.

  • Investments in companies that use ADRs are frequently illiquid, as an investor must keep the shares for a lengthy time to earn a profit.

  • Foreign firms typically pass on the costs of the entire ADR procedure to investors.

  • The Securities Exchange Commission can take harsh action if we don't follow the rules.

Real life examples of American Depository Receipts (ADR)
  • Volkswagen AG traded OTC in the United States as a sponsored ADR under the ticker VLKAY between 1988 and 2018. Volkswagen ended their ADR program in August 2018.

  • J.P. Morgan issued an unsponsored ADR for Volkswagen the next day, which is now trading under the ticker VWAGY.

The previous VLKAY ADRs could be cashed out, exchanged for actual shares of Volkswagen stock (trading on German marketplaces), or exchanged for the new VWAGY ADRs.

Sponsored vs. Unsponsored American Depository Receipts (ADR)

A depositary bank in the United States is necessary for all American Depository Receipts (ADRs). The depositary bank is the financial entity that issues ADRs, keeps track of ADR holders, records trades, and distributes dividends and interest on shareholders' equity payments in dollars to ADR holders.

The depositary bank collaborates with the foreign company and their custodian bank in their home country to register and issue the ADRs in a sponsored ADR.

Instead, an unsponsored ADR is issued by a depositary bank without the involvement, participation, or even approval of the foreign firm whose ownership it represents. Broker-dealers that possess common stock in a foreign firm and trade over-the-counter typically issue unsponsored ADRs.

Difference between American Depository Receipts (ADR) and Global Depository Receipts (GDR)

ADRs allow foreign shares to be listed in a single market. Global Depositary Receipts (GDRs) issued by the United States, on the other hand, provide access to two or more markets (most commonly the US and Euro markets) through a single fungible security. GDRs are most typically utilized by issuers to raise capital in both the local and foreign markets, as well as in the United States. This can be accomplished by either a private placement or a public offering.

Is an American Depository Receipts (ADR) the Same as an American Depositary Share (ADS)?

The actual underlying shares that the ADR represents are known as American depositary shares (ADSs). In other words, the ADR represents the whole bundle of ADSs issued, whereas the ADS represents the actual share accessible for trading.


For further queries regarding investments, financial planning and guidance, please call us at +91 7305923322

Please write to us at

To read more posts from ATS, check our blog at

Post a Comment
Error message
Error message
Error message



This report is only for the information of our customers. Recommendations, opinions, or suggestions are given with the understanding that readers acting on this information assume all risks involved. The information provided herein is not to be construed as an offer to buy or sell securities of any kind. ATS and/or its group companies do not as assume any responsibility or liability resulting from the use of such information.