Jardine Fleming Securities retained its premier position in the latest equity research ranking for Asia ex-Japan, based on a poll of institutional investors in 26 countries. Jardines has held top place in the past four annual surveys, which were carried out by New York-based Institutional Investor. The professional investors surveyed were not as kind to other companies that have faced problems over the past year. SocGen Crosby Securities fell from fourth place last year to sixteenth place this year, after key analysts defected in droves last summer. Crosby, which was independent until it was bought by Societe Generale last July, has traditionally carried a ranking far higher than its relatively small size would indicate. In fourth place this year is Merrill Lynch, all the way up from eighteenth last year. Merrill Lynch gained a full complement of Smith New Court analysts around the region following a 1995 merger. The combined research teams have pulled in quite a bit of talent from outside over the past year. Deutsche Morgan Grenfell is another firm with big plans and a cheque book to match. After the merger of Germany's Deutschebank and Britain's Morgan Grenfell, the firm became one of the largest investment banks globally. Institutional investors ranked Deutsche Morgan Grenfell number 10 this year, after it tied with Merrill Lynch for 18th place last year. Most other firms showed little change in their rankings. ING Barings was in second place after tying with Jardines for first place last year, and SBC Warburg moved up one notch to third place. Credit Lyonnais slipped from third place to sixth, while Morgan Stanley edged up to fifth place from sixth last year. The survey, which is one of several closely watched in the industry, gives a ranking to teams rather than to individual analysts.