Cook Group selling drug unit for $950M, buying former GE factory

Bloomington-based Cook Group announced on Tuesday that it is selling a drug-development unit to a New Jersey company for $950 million. Cook also announced that it is buying the former General Electric refrigerator factory site in Bloomington to accommodate the continued growth of other parts of its business.

Publicly traded Catalent Inc, which specializes in drug delivery technology, is snapping up Bloomington-based Cook Pharmica LLC, which has grown rapidly since its founding in 2004. The firm manufactures and packages drugs for use in clinical trials or for sale on the market. It operates an 875,000-square-foot development and manufacturing facility in Bloomington that employs 750.

Cook Pharmica reported annual revenue in the 12 months that ended June 30 of $179 million. Cook Group overall has $2.2 billion in annual revenue, ranking it as Indiana's second-largest private company. The firm—which operates in the fields of health care, travel services, real estate and resort management—has 12,000 employees, including 7,390 in Indiana.

Catalent CEO John Chiminski said his company plans to "invest aggressively" in Cook Pharmica's Bloomington operations.

Cook Group President Pete Yonkman said in a statement that Cook Pharmica's president, Tedd Green, will continue to run the business.

“We only consider opportunities like this when it clearly benefits the patients we serve, our employees, the community, and both companies," he said. "In this case, we feel confident that this is a good decision for all involved, including the more than 750 Cook Pharmica employees whose jobs are all secure."

Yonkman also called the purchase of the former GE factory a win for the city of Bloomington.

The factory, which opened in 1967, once was the world's largest refrigerator factory, and it employed more than 3,200 workers at the end of the last century. GE shuttered the plant last year, citing declining demand for side-by-side refrigerators.

Cook said buying the site will ease an immediate space crunch at its Cook Medical headquarters on Daniels Way. Longer term, the additional space will allow the company to modernize manufacturing and increase efficiency.

In a press release, the company said, "Over the next 10 years, if market growth continues as planned, Cook Group expects to add 500 jobs in Bloomington at this new facility and its Daniels Way location."

Yonkman added: “The GE site is one of the only existing buildings in Bloomington that can meet our needs, and its close proximity to our global headquarters allows us to expand our west side campus."

Cook Group was founded in 1963 by Hoosier innovator Bill Cook in a spare bedroom of his Bloomington apartment.

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