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I'd imagine that for a given underlying foreign security, it's possible for there to be multiple U.S.-based banks, each of which acts as a custodian/depositary for ADRs of that foreign security. In which case, when you buy an ADR, does the ADR you buy have a particular custodian associated with it? And are ADRs with the same underlying security all traded via the same book even if they have different custodians?

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Yes, it is possible for more than one bank to decide to sponsor an ADR on the same security. In this case the ADRs have different tickers and are conceptually different securities. An example is the Japanese company Daikin (Tokyo 6367) which trades in US as both DKILY and DKILF (the latter is much less traded however, typically one ADR prevails over the other in the marketplace, in tems of liqidity).

DKILY is with Citibank, DKILF is with Bank of New York Mellon. So that is how you know who the custodian is, from the ticker.

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  • $\begingroup$ Searching for DKILY, I found this links suggesting that (at least) both Citi and J.P. Morgan are depositaries for DKILY: depositaryreceipts.citi.com/drweb/viewDocument?file=/nasisw/ISW/… adr.com/Site/LoadPDF?CMSID=56e85d90f8bd4c4f85797c1ff75f58bc They have the same ticker and CUSIP, so it seems like you might not be able to tell who the depositary is from that information alone. $\endgroup$ – mr linky Apr 15 '18 at 19:54
  • $\begingroup$ @mrlinky You can have multiple depository banks per ticker as well. For the ticker you listed above, BK, CIT, DB, JPMC are all depositaries. Typically they will split the ticker if the share ratios differ. $\endgroup$ – pyCthon Jun 15 '18 at 11:06
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ADRs can be issued by any depository bank and if there's demand multiple banks can issue an ADR on the same company. In case of the multinational banks like BAML, CITY, BNYM, WFC, DB they are usually also the custodian as they have a presence in the home market of the underlying security.

In case of no presence in the home market of the underlying security, they have to arrange for a custodian. This however adds a higher fee burden, making the ADR less attractive for investors, hence not very often done.

Also have a look at the SEC, Investor Bulletin: American Depositary Receipts

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