BEIJING -- Bank of New York Co. said China would become its most important new source for American depositary receipts business within three to rive years.

"This year we're projecting that anywhere between 10 to' 12 Chinese companies will establish ADR programs in the U.S.," said Joe Velli, executive vice president for the bank.

Mr. Velli was attending a two-day conference for Hong Kong and U.S. securities officials and brokers as well as representatives of the 22 mainland Chinese companies that have been selected for a second round of overseas exchange listings.

Leading Servicer of ADRs

Five of the large state firms are preparing to list on the New York Stock Exchange.

Bank of New York is a leading servicer of ADRs, the vehicle for foreign stock trading on the exchange.

Mr. Velli said he was meeting with all 22 companies, as well as with 25 "B share" companies that Bank of New York views as ADR candidates.

He declined to give names, but added that the bank had been appointed by three companies to establish ADR programs.

"We believe the companies designated to list in the U.S. will be very well received," Mr. Velli said.

"Investor appetite is extremely strong for Asian-based companies, and particularly Chinese-based companies."

Six mainland companies now have ADR programs. Among them are Shanghai Petrochemical Co., the only "H share" company listed on the New York exchange, and several "B share" companies.

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