Camden bank purchases 14 Bank of America branches

CAMDEN – Camden National Bank has completed its purchase of 14 Bank of America branches across Maine.

The Camden-based bank announced Monday that it completed the acquisition during the weekend.

The purchase expands Camden National’s network to 50 branches and adds $300 million in customer deposits. The company says the conversion of the Bank of America branches gives it more than 30,000 new customers and 100 new employees.

With the acquisition, Camden National has expanded into Auburn, Augusta, Brewer, Gardiner, Old Town, Newport and Waterville, and increased its presence in Bangor and Lewiston.

Hurricane Sandy creates uncertainty in gas market

AUGUSTA – Gas prices in Maine tumbled by a dime per gallon in the past week, but Hurricane Sandy is creating uncertainty in the market.

Price-monitoring website MaineGasPrices.com reported Monday that the average retail cost of a gallon of gas dropped by more than 10 cents to an average of $3.67. That’s still 11 cents above the national average.

The current price in Maine is now almost 16 cents per gallon higher than at the same time last year, and more than 27 cents lower than a month ago.

A company analyst said Sandy may cause disruptions in production and delivery, but disruptions in supply may be offset by area-wide shutdowns of business, leading to curtailed demand.

Microsoft gets broad support for new Windows gadgets

NEW YORK – Microsoft launched a new version of its Windows Phone software with broad support from smartphone makers, cellphone carriers and app developers as the software company tries to position new Windows gadgets as strong alternatives to Apple and Android devices.

The company also promised to address one of the chief shortcomings with Windows Phone: the dearth of third-party applications relative to offerings for Apple’s iPhone and devices running Google’s Android system.

Windows Phone 8 is the successor to Windows Phone 7, which launched two years ago but has had little traction in the market. The new software will run on more powerful phones, with flagship models coming from Nokia, Samsung and HTC, starting this weekend overseas and later in November in the United States.

Major publishing houses agree to merge in new deal

LONDON – Two of the world’s biggest publishing houses are to link up in a deal that will bring classics like George Orwell’s “1984” and this year’s literary phenomenon “Fifty Shades of Grey” under one umbrella.

Confirmation that Pearson will merge its Penguin Books division with Random House, which is owned by German media company Bertelsmann, will create the world’s largest publisher of consumer books, with around a quarter of the market.

As well as publishing books from authors such as John Grisham, Random House scored a major hit this year with E.L. James’ “Fifty Shades, ” a steamy novel about a submissive college student and a dominant entrepreneur. Penguin has a strong backlist, including Orwell, Jack Kerouac and John Le Carre.

The two companies said Monday that Bertelsmann will own a controlling 53 percent share of the joint venture, which will be known as Penguin Random House.

Bertelsmann would keep full control of Verlagsgruppe Random House, its trade publishing business, and Pearson will retain the right to use the Penguin brand in education.

The combined company will control 26 percent of the global consumer publishing market, leaping ahead of the 17 percent share of French publisher Lagardere, according to research by Espirito Santo Bank.

The announcement may also lay to rest the ambition of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. of netting Penguin.

– From staff and news services