HONG KONG, August 21 (Reuters) - Hong Kong shares could start lower on Wednesday as investors remain cautious amid a sharp slide in emerging markets ahead of the release of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s minutes of its July meeting, which may contain clues on when the Fed plans to taper its stimulus.
On Tuesday, the Hang Seng Index closed down 2.2 percent at 21,970.29 in its fourth-straight daily loss, while the China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings in Hong Kong fell 2.9 percent. Both benchmarks suffered their biggest daily percentage loss since July 3.
Elsewhere in Asia, Japan’s Nikkei was up 0.5 percent, while South Korea’s KOSPI was down 0.4 percent at 0048 GMT.
* The London Metal Exchange, which is owned by Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd, has offered the job of chief executive to Martin Pratt, two sources familiar with the matter said on Tuesday, picking a veteran broker to lead the bourse through the most tumultuous period in its 136-year history.
* Passenger cruise ship operator Genting Hong Kong Ltd said its first half net profit fell to $23 million from $38 million in the year earlier period.
* China’s top offshore oil explorer CNOOC Ltd, which acquired Canadian energy firm Nexen for $15.1 billion in February, said it is on track to meet its 2013 output target after posting a first-half profit that beat analyst estimates.
* Italian fashion house Versace has signed a deal to build a luxury hotel at a casino resort in Macau, Asia’s gambling capital. In a joint statement with local casinos operator SJM Holdings Ltd, Versace said the five-star Palazzo Versace hotel will be part of a resort SJM is building in the former Portuguese colony’s Las Vegas-style Cotai strip.
* Bank of East Asia, a commercial lender in Hong Kong, has been approved to invest in China’s bond and stock markets in yuan as the world’s second-largest economy steps up financial market liberalisation.
* Chinese coal producer and distributor China Coal Energy Co Ltd said its first-half net profit was 3.2 billion yuan ($522 million), down 37.8 percent from a year earlier.
* Property developer Hopewell Holdings Ltd said its full year core operating profit fell 9 percent to HK$1.2 billion.
* A former senior executive from China Mobile Ltd’s state-owned parent is being investigated for “severe discipline violations,” coming at a time when a slew of investigations is gripping the country’s corporate sector.
* Infant formulas producer Biostime International Holdings Ltd said its profit for the first half of 2013 rose 8.6 percent to 297.5 million yuan after a one-off fine of 162.9 million yuan imposed by the National Development and Reform Commission for price-fixing, while revenue jumped 51.3 percent to 2.06 billion yuan.
* China Merchants Bank Co Ltd said China Securities Regulatory Commission had approved its plan of acquiring 21.6 percent equity interest held by ING Asset Management B.V. in China Merchants Fund Management Co Ltd, raising its stake in the unit to 55 percent.