Trading in American depositary receipts, or shares in foreign companies, grew strongly during the third quarter as many foreign companies launched new programs, Citicorp reported.

The total number of receipts, or ADRs, traded on the New York Stock Exchange, American Stock Exchange, and over the counter Nasdaq market reached an all-time high of 5.2 billion shares for the nine months ended September 30, up 21% over the same period last year. Dollar volume of ADRs traded over the same period rose 32% to $184 billion.

ADRs, or negotiable certificates that represent shares in a non-U.S. company, trade the same way U.S. shares do but carry a foreign exchange risk.

Citicorp, along with Bank of New York and J.P. Morgan & Co., is among the major sponsors and custodians of ADR issues.

Foreign banks seeking to broaden their shareholder base and raise their U.S. profile have been leading issuers of ADRs.

Among the banks that have recently launched ADR programs are Union Bank of Switzerland, Banque Nationale de Paris, Italy's Banco Credito Italiano, Turkey's Guaranti Bank, Chile's Banco O'Higgins, Mexico's Banco Serfin, Ireland's Anglo-Irish Bank, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng Bank.

"We will see a further strong increase in capital raised, ADR trading, and the number of new programs launched, in particular from emerging markets," predicted Kenneth P. Lopian, senior vice president in charge of Bank of New York's ADR group.

"Continued investor appetite to invest in economies growing faster than the United States as well as interest among issuers in raising capital in this market is the main reason," Mr. Lopian said.

The executive also predicted a surge in ADR issues next year by companies from China, Brazil, South Africa, Mexico, and India.

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