* Expects to launch snack bar early next year
* Plans to start looking at small acquisitions
* Takeover is no longer on radar -CEO
By Martinne Geller
NEW YORK, Aug 13 Building on the success of its
5-Hour Energy shot and a recent debt offering, Michigan-based
Living Essentials LLC is looking at acquisitions and working to
launch a low-calorie snack bar it says can stave off hunger for
The bar will have 95 calories and taste "as good as any
candy you've ever had," according to Manoj Bhargava, the
company's chief executive.
"It could flop, but I think it has a pretty good chance of
being bigger than 5-Hour Energy," Bhargava told Reuters in an
interview on Friday.
The launch is planned for the start of 2013. Bhargava
declined to reveal the snack bar's name.
The company's sole product at present is 5-Hour Energy, a
2-ounce "energy shot" containing B-vitamins, amino acids and
other nutrients. Sold at convenience stores and gas stations,
the product is aimed at truck drivers and soccer moms.
That makes it different than Monster energy drinks,
which are popular with young men, and Red Bull, which is popular
at bars and nightclubs.
FROM SELLER TO BUYER
In December 2010, while speaking at a conference in New
York, Bhargava said he was willing to sell 5-Hour Energy, but
that it was hard to convince potential buyers of the
astronomical growth rates he was predicting.
Around that time, a few players took a "cursory look,"
Bhargava said, but discussions never went far.
Nearly two years later, the company has annual sales at
retail of about $1.2 billion to $1.3 billion and earnings before
interest, tax, depreciation and amortization of about $300
million. That means the pool of potential buyers is pretty
small, Bhargava said.
"It's not something that's on the radar at all," he said.
Instead, the company plans to use some of the proceeds from
last month's $450 million debt offering to acquire a product or
two that would fit into its distribution system.
"The product itself has to be slam-dunk," Bhargava said. "It
could really be anything as long as it's consumer packaged goods
and it's slam-dunk. What I don't want to do is sell nonsense
because it's complementary."
In terms of size, Bhargava does not plan to spend more than
half of the $450 million raised from the private placement, he
When asked if there were available assets that fit the bill,
Bhargava said he had not started looking, since he preferred to
wait until the funds were raised.
"To me, it's impolite to go out shopping with no money,"