PRESS DIGEST -Hong Kong - Jan 23

HONG KONG Wed Jan 22, 2014 9:12pm EST

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HONG KONG Jan 23 (Reuters) - These are some of the leading stories in Hong Kong newspapers on Thursday. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST

-- The central government has agreed in principle to approve 12 new free trade zones, including Guangdong and Tianjin, three months after giving the special status to Shanghai. ()

-- The mainland's banking regulator is studying the feasibility of introducing new rules to make it easier for Hong Kong banks to operate in Guangdong province as part of its efforts to build the region into a free trade zone. ()

-- Tianhong Asset Management, the sole partner of online giant Alibaba in the sale of money market funds on the company's e-commerce platform, is on its way to overtaking China Asset Management to become the mainland's biggest mutual fund manager. ()

THE STANDARD

-- Several homeowners at Hong Kong's luxury projects completed in recent years have lost up to HK$1 million ($128,900) when selling their flats, trying to keep up with developers who continue to offer hefty discounts for new flats. ()

-- FWD chairman Ronald Arculli said he was not aware of any plans to inject the insurer into sister firm Pacific Century Premium Developments or launch an initial public offering. ()

-- Shares of Bossini International Holdings jumped as much as 33 percent as it expects a significant increase in its half-year earnings from a year back, after closing underperforming stores. ()

HONG KONG ECONOMIC JOURNAL

-- The year of the Horse would bring bullish markets and drive the Hang Seng Index up to 28,105, brokerage CLSA said in its yearly tongue-in-check forecast for the coming lunar new year.

HONG KONG ECONOMIC TIMES

-- Latest government statistics show the potential supply of private houses will be 71,000 flats in the next three to four years. That is a 1.4 percent decrease from the last quarter and the first drop in two years.

-- Chow Tai Fook will partner Excellence Group to bid for land in Shenzhen's Qianhai district, a source said.

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