THE share price of Mr Price rose to a record high yesterday after it announced the appointment of New York-based financial services company, BNY Mellon, as the depositary bank for its American depositary receipt programme.

The listing of depository receipts on the US over-the-counter market allows US investors to invest in the local retailer.

The share price gained 2,2% to close at R114,40 - the highest price since at least 1990.

Each Mr Price depositary receipt will represent one ordinary share and trade on the over-the-counter market under the symbol MRPLY.

What this means is that while US shareholders cannot have shares registered in their name, the stock will be held on their behalf by the depository.

The apparel and homeware retailer operates 937 stores in Southern Africa and 24 franchised stores in Africa.

"As we expand our growth into key markets outside SA, the depository receipt programme is an exciting new source of potential investors," Mr Price' s chief financial officer Mark Blair said.

Chris Gilmour, an analyst at Absa Investments, said that the listing was an affirmation that the company "had arrived".

Mr Price knocked Telkom off the Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI) index last month. "It confers a degree of respectability. Along with its inclusion in the MSCI, it's very good news," Mr Gilmour said.

Foreign shareholding in Mr Price is about 45%.

In the first half of the year foreigners have remained net buyers of local retail stocks.

"They like our retail stocks," said Ian Cruickshanks, the head of Treasury Strategic Research at Nedbank Capital.

Michael Cole-Fontayn, the CEO of BNY Mellon's Depositary Receipts business, said it looked forward to helping Mr Price unlock its US potential.

"BNY Mellon will utilise its many resources to develop a mutually beneficial partnership with the company and its investors," Mr Cole-Fontayn said.

Mr Cruickshanks said being associated with BNY Mellon was a good reference point for Mr Price. "It could bring the attention of American investors to an area where they should be considering investing if they're looking at emerging markets and SA in particular."

Mr Price reported a 19% rise in full-year profit for the year to March 31.

Diluted headline earnings per share came to 464,5c for the year to March 31, from 388,8c a year ago. The group's return on equity increased from 46% to 47,2%.

"US investors like this share because, although its nominally categorised as being an emerging market share, its got outstanding first-world management and from time to time they're going to be able to participate in emerging market growth, both in SA and the rest of Africa," Mr Gilmour said.

With Bloomberg

mooradz@bdfm.co.za