By Michael Erman
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Clorox Co Chief Executive Don Knauss plans to be fairly aggressive in buying assets to expand his company's healthcare offerings as it looks to triple the size of that business over the next five years.
The 99-year-old company is best-known for its namesake bleach, but its healthcare business - encompassing products like disinfecting spray, germicidal wipes and hand sanitizer - has been a small growth engine in recent years.
The business has grown to around $100 million in annual revenue from around $2 million over the past five years, Knauss told Reuters in an interview. He hopes to expand it to a $300 million business within five years, with about half that growth coming from acquisitions.
"You can certainly expect more activity," Knauss said, noting that there are dozens of family-owned healthcare companies that focus on disinfection products, or products that prevent the spread of infection - offerings the company is looking to expand.
"Most of these companies that we've looked at are in the $10-to-$50 million range" of annual revenue, Knauss said.
The company spent about $80 million to $90 million to buy two healthcare companies - Aplicare Inc and HealthLink - earlier in 2012.
Internationally, Knauss said Clorox will also look for bolt-on acquisitions for its home care and laundry businesses in countries where it already does business, especially in Latin America.
He said the company was interested in Procter & Gamble Co's bleach business in Central America, for instance.
"We'll continue to knock on their door," he said, noting that the unit probably brings in less than $50 million in revenue annually.
Clorox is trying to reshape its portfolio to align more with the consumer trends of health and wellness, sustainability, multiculturalism and affordability. It has sold its auto care business and acquired various products sold to the healthcare industry as well as Burt's Bees natural personal care products and Soy Vay Enterprises, which makes Asian marinades and dressings.
Still, Knauss said the company was not interested in making any drastic changes through acquisition.
"I think people typically overpay when they start talking about transformational acquisitions," Knauss said.
Clorox shares dipped 4 cents to close at $68.80 on Thursday.
(This story corrected spelling of Knauss's name in 3rd paragraph)
(Reporting By Michael Erman; editing by Matthew Lewis)