J.B. Were Ranks No. 1 in Australian Equities Research

Sydney, Dec. 21 (Bloomberg) -- J.B. Were & Son, Australia's largest independently owned broker, was rated the country's best broker for research and trading, according to this year's East Coles Pty equities survey.

Fund managers rated Melbourne-based Were best overall with Salomon Smith Barney Inc., the investment banking arm of Citigroup Inc., second. Last year, Salomon wore the crown.

Merrill Lynch Australia improved to third place from the fifth place last year. Credit Suisse First Boston was fourth, down from No. 3 last year, while Deutsche Bank AG ranked fifth, up a notch.

The equities research and dealing survey by East Coles, whose name changed from Coles Christie & Associates Pty, was based on how fund managers rate the performance of the country's brokerages. It surveyed 42 fund managers with A$150 billion ($830 million) worth of equities under supervision.

"The survey has been around a long time and is a helpful indication of the current competitive position,'' said Justin Arter, head of research at Were. ``The result reflects the effectiveness of our customized international research effort and additional resources in telecommunications and research sales.''

Chase Ord Minnett Securities was rated the best broker in the Australian banks sector, with its lead analyst Brian Johnson the best researcher. Macquarie Bank Ltd. was the best in the insurance sector with Tony Jackson, its insurance analyst, rated the best in the market.

Merrill Lynch's telecommunications analyst Patrick Russel was the best-rated sector analyst, winning the brokerage the ranking of the No. 1 broker in that category. Salomon's George Colman was rated the best media analyst.