DALLAS, Nov. 14, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Kimberly-Clark Corporation (NYSE: KMB) today announced that its board of directors has authorized management to pursue a potential tax-free spin-off of the company's health care business. A spin-off would create a stand-alone, publicly traded health care company with approximately $1.6 billion in annual net sales and leading market positions in both surgical and infection prevention products and medical devices. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Thomas J. Falk said, "While K-C Health Care has been part of our company since the 1970's, its strategic fit and growth priorities have changed over time and we now think that pursuing a spin-off makes sense for our shareholders. This move would allow K-C Health Care to optimize its performance and flexibility to pursue its own value-creation opportunities. A spin-off would also allow us to further sharpen our focus on our consumer and K-C Professional brands. This announcement is further evidence of our focus on creating shareholder value and how we use portfolio management to run our company." Robert E. Abernathy, currently Kimberly-Clark Group President – Europe, Global Nonwovens, and Continuous Improvement and Sustainability, will become chief executive officer of the new health care company if the spin-off ultimately occurs. Abernathy joined Kimberly-Clark in 1982 and has held senior management positions throughout the company, including having overall responsibility for K-C Health Care from 1997 to early 2004. Joanne B. Bauer will continue as Kimberly-Clark President – Global Health Care, work closely with Robert Abernathy on separation planning and retire when the spin-off is completed. "Robert is a seasoned executive with a long track record of success and I'm confident he will be a terrific leader of the new company," said Falk. "He is excited about working with the many talented individuals on the health care team to create shareholder value as a stand-alone company."