Kimberly-Clark, the maker of Kleenex tissues, said its board authorized a potential spin-off of its health care business, sending its shares up 6 percent in extended trading.
The company said the move would enable it to focus on its consumer and K-C professional brands.
Kimberly-Clark said Robert Abernathy, currently group president, Europe, global nonwovens and continuous improvement and sustainability, will become chief executive of the new health care company if its spun off.
(Read more: Here's how many Apple shares Carl Icahn owns)
The company said it expects to make a final recommendation regarding in the next several months. If the spin-off is approved, the transaction would be completed by the end of the third quarter of 2014.
Morgan Stanley has been retained by the company in pursuit of the spin-off.
Kimberly-Clark's health care business sells surgical and infection prevention products for the operating room, as well as medical devices. It posted net sales of $1.6 billion in 2012.
(Read more: Will iPad minis be in short supply this holiday?)
The company's shares were trading at $116.60 after markets closed. They had closed at $109.71 on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday. (Click here for the latest quote.)