CUMBERLAND

Maine Standards Co. building Cumberland Foreside facility

Maine Standards Co., which specializes in verifying calibration standards for laboratories, began construction this month on a building in Cumberland Foreside.

As many as 75 employees will work in the 29,000-square-foot building, where the company plans to move during the summer of 2013. The company is now based in Windham.

Maine Standards said the builder is using state-of-the-art materials and aims to get LEED Silver certification. LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, sets standards for third-party verification of “green” building design to operate efficiently, conserve energy and reduce waste.

Sales of champagne fizzle in Europe after tough year

Europeans are finding fewer reasons to pop open a bottle of champagne as another year of economic troubles and high unemployment saps the region’s appetite for the finer things. But while the latest industry figures show that sales might be on the wane in Europe, other markets, particularly Japan and the United States, are developing a taste for a glass of bubbly.

In what is certain to be bad news for the vineyards, France — champagne’s largest market — is drinking fewer bottles. Sales of champagne for the country were down 4.9 percent, and 5 percent elsewhere in the 27-country European Union, in the first nine months of 2012 compared with the same period in 2011, according to CIVC, the national association of growers and producers.

Pending home sales index at highest since April 2010

A measure of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes increased last month to its highest level in two and a half years, the latest sign of improvement in the housing market.

The National Association of Realtors said Friday that its seasonally adjusted pending home sales index rose 1.7 percent in November from October to 106.4. That’s the highest since April 2010, when a home-buyer tax credit caused a spike in sales. And after excluding those months when the tax credit was available, it’s the best reading since February 2007.

U.K.’s Pearson buying stake in Barnes & Noble’s Nook

Pearson, the U.K. publisher and education company, is to take a 5 percent stake in Barnes & Noble’s Nook e-reader as technology companies seek new inroads into the potentially lucrative business of digital textbooks for schools.

Pearson PLC will pay $89.5 million cash for a 5 percent stake in Nook Media LLC which includes the bookseller’s e-reader and tablets, its digital bookstore and its 674 stores serving U.S. colleges. Barnes & Noble will hold 78.2 percent of the business and Microsoft will have about 16.8 percent, the company said Friday.

Autonomy, now owned by HP, faces accounting investigation

Autonomy, the British business software company now owned by Hewlett-Packard Co., is facing a Justice Department investigation over improper accounting under previous management, according to HP.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission late Thursday, HP said Justice officials had informed the company on Nov. 21 that they were opening an investigation into the allegations, which HP said in November that it had uncovered after a senior Autonomy executive came forward.

Chinese court orders Apple to pay in copyright dispute

A Chinese court has ordered Apple Inc. to pay $165,000 to eight Chinese writers and two companies who say unlicensed copies of their work were distributed through Apple’s online store.

The Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court ruled Thursday that Apple violated the writers’ copyrights by allowing applications containing their work to be distributed through its App Store, according to an official who answered the phone at the court and said he was the judge in the case. He refused to give his name, as is common among Chinese officials.

– From staff and news services