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International equity: New members for the GDR club

Cheaper to issue and less stringent than their American cousins, global depositary receipts are gaining popularity. New programmes have been developed by several emerging markets. For investors the advantage is a clean trade and the removal of forex risk. "It's dollar, boom, done," says one. Graham Field reports

Croatia, Morocco, Egypt and Lithuania usually only rub shoulders in the horse-trading for rotating seats on the UN Security Council or in the preliminary qualifying rounds of the World Cup. What they have in common this year, however, is that companies from these four countries have issued global depositary receipts (GDRs) for the first time. These issues illustrate the growing importance of the GDR market.

Global depositary receipts accounted for around a quarter of total depositary receipt (DR) issuance in the first nine months of this year, with a further two thirds in the form of American depositary receipts (ADRs) and the remainder in either Rule 144A issues or European depositary receipts. GDR issues are either becoming bigger and fewer in number, from the better established markets, or are being made by companies that are breaking fresh ground. The new issuers indicate how the supply of GDRs will keep renewing itself, even if the ease of dealing directly in other markets eventually obviates the need for issues from the longer-established sources.

As the table on page 88 shows, the number of GDR programmes has expanded rapidly during the 1990s; GDRs now account for a rising proportion of the total number of programmes and are of growing importance to emerging markets issuers.

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