BLOOMINGTON - Bloomington-based Cook Group Inc. has announced what it calls "significant, positive changes for the future." The global life sciences  company has reached a $950 million agreement to sell its contract biopharmaceutical business, Cook Pharmica, to New Jersey-based Catalent Inc. (NYSE: CTLT). Cook Group has also announced the acquisition of the former GE refrigeration plant in Bloomington, which it says will lead to 500 additional jobs in Monroe County as part of plans to "modernize its manufacturing process" over the next decade.

Cook Group President Pete Yonkman says the jobs of 750 Cook Pharmica employees are "all secure" with the acquisition by Catalent. "We only consider opportunities like this when it clearly benefits the patients we serve, our employees, the community, and both companies. In this case, we feel confident that this is a good decision for all involved," Yonkman said in a statement. "All of those (Cook Pharmica) employees will become part of Catalent’s growing biologics business and remain under the leadership of Cook Pharmica's president, Tedd Green."

Officials say, once the deal is complete, Cook Pharmica and Catalent "will create a new leader in the rapidly growing biologics development, analytical, manufacturing and finished product supply industry." The acquisition is expected to close by year's end. Catalent says it will invest "aggressively" in Cook Pharmica, including the creation of a biologics development and manufacturing center of excellence.

Catalent Chief Executive Officer John Chiminski says "this purchase is a recognition of the hard work, dedication, and community spirit of the men and women who have helped Cook Pharmica to grow. The Bloomington area has been a terrific home for this fast-­growing business, and we look forward to further strengthening Cook Pharmica's partnership with the community in the years to come."

The deal between Cook Group and Catalent must still receive regulatory approval.

The former GE property was opened in the 1960s and left vacant mid last year. Yonkman says "we need more space to accommodate our growth and to enable us to expedite modernization and transformation of our manufacturing process. The flexibility that the GE space provides will allow us to purpose build for efficiency in our production lines. 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 Pharmica was founded in 2004. Cook Group currently employs over 12,000 worldwide and was established in 1963. Catalent is a $2 billion a year, more than 80 year-old business with some 10,000 employees at more than 30 global facilities.