HONG KONG, Oct 23 (Reuters) - These are some of the leading stories in Hong Kong newspapers on Wednesday. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.
-- Office rents in Central may fall by up to 20 percent within the next 18 months as the market adjusts to an abundant supply of vacant space in Hong Kong's prime commercial precinct, say some property brokers. (link.reuters.com/cet93v)
-- A court has asked police to investigate why the boss of failed Hong Kong Mercantile Exchange kept a copy of a gold dealer's document falsely claiming access to $516 million. If facts presented to the court were correct, former executive councillor Barry Cheung Chun-yuen was "no doubt" a suspect in the case, a magistrate said on Tuesday. (link.reuters.com/fet93v)
-- China's food safety concerns are accelerating its overseas investment in food and beverage companies and agriculture with outbound direct investment in agriculture and technology rising sharply over the past few years, according to Ernst & Young. Such investment represented 15 percent of all Chinese outbound direct investment in the first half of 2013 compared with 4 percent in 2009. (link.reuters.com/get93v)
-- The Chinese yuan will not weaken significantly as that would push up inflation risks, Bank of China (Hong Kong) Asset Management said. Chief executive Au King-lun believes yuan internationalisation will speed up as more central banks start to hold yuan bonds given the weakening U.S. dollar. (link.reuters.com/het93v)
-- Wealthy people in the Asia-Pacific region have raised their asset allocation in real estate this year to 16 percent of their portfolios from 9 percent, a survey of 25 rich families in eight economies has found. The well-heeled in Hong Kong show strong interest in real estate and cash holdings, while those in Singapore are more exposed to venture capital, the survey conducted by UBS Wealth Management and research firm Campden Wealth showed. (link.reuters.com/jet93v)
-- Wage increases for the next year may range from 4.3 to 4.7 percent, higher than this year, according to a survey of companies. This year's pay rises in 84 companies averaged between 3.9 and 4.3 percent, according to the survey by Hong Kong Baptist University and the Hong Kong People Management Association. (link.reuters.com/ket93v)
-- Fashion group Esprit Holdings Limited said Melody Harris-Jensbach would step down as chief product and design officer with effect from Oct. 31, after being with the company for less than two years. Esprit said Harris-Jensbach has successfully refocused its product direction and the company is already starting to benefit from the improvements.
-- Eight companies will seek a listing in the city in the next two weeks to raise a total HK$20 billion ($2.58 billion), of which China’s largest online games developer Boyaa Interactive aims to raise HK$1 billion.
For Chinese newspapers, see............... ($1 = 7.7524 Hong Kong dollars) (Reporting by Donny Kwok; Editing by Sunil Nair)