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For double listed companies, does it make any difference on which exchange I buy the shares ?

Often, a company in emerging market, say Brasil is listed in Sao Paulo, and then in New York.

Does it make any difference for me, a small investor, where I buy the share ?

My base currency is neither BRL nor USD

if buying in NY, are multiple exchange rates involved ?

Naive approach would be to buy directly in the country where the company is located.

  • It may also be worth exploring if purchasing the stocks in one of those countries subjects you to their taxation. If you aren't a citizen of Brazil or the United States and purchasing stock in either country could subject you to taxes on capital gains or dividends, then you could pick the country with the most favorable taxation. – seanr Dec 5 '17 at 3:48
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If it's the same company and the same class of shares, it doesn't make any difference (in terms of performance and dividends) which country and which currency you choose.

I understand you are not based in the US, but because one of the alternatives you stated is the US you may find it useful to read the International Investing brochure by the SEC. Make sure you understand the difference between directly listed foreign companies and ADRs. The latter are actually much more common, are structured a bit differently and may come with extra fees. The trading and the ultimate economic effect is not very different though.

If your base currency is none of the two currencies, it is best to buy the stock in the market that is more liquid and has lower transaction costs - which is usually the country where the company is based and/or where it was listed first, but not always (especially when the other country is US).

Consider average trading volume, commissions, and the bid-ask spread - not only in the stock itself, but also in the currency. Another thing to check are possible differences in regulatory and tax implications, which could make one country more favourable than the other in your particular situation.

In general, the price (converted to your base currency) should be the same on both exchanges, although occasional temporary mispricings may occur, especially when one of the markets is illiquid. These mispricings can sometimes be exploited by arbitrage, although that is usually inaccessible to a retail investor due to high transaction costs. I did this kind of arbitrage a few times as part of my previous job, but the opportunities were rare and profits very small - usually the prices matched closely. The mere possibility that arbitrage could be done is actually the reason why the price is the same in both places.

This also means that currency risk is not a factor when comparing the two options, because relative changes in stock prices and currency exchange rates will always offset each other, and in your base currency the performance will be the same.

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In principle, No - it does not matter on which exchange you buy the shares. In some cases (e.g. Australia & New Zealand shares) the two securities might even have the same ISIN number. Sometimes you can even buy shares in one country and sell them in another, though usually this requires some administrative work (and some kind of fee).

What you will find however is that some markets will trade more freely than others, and some will be more costly to trade on the others. This is illustrated by the number of shares that trade each day, and by the amount of difference between the bid and ask prices.

Different countries may have different rules about margin. I understand that in Brazil it is very difficult to trade on margin, while US brokers may allow it if the security is sufficiently liquid - even if it is a foreign security.

You should look at the costs of opening and closing a position and the difference in spreads between the markets and choose whichever is least expensive and most convenient.

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