Burger King Negotiating to Buy Tim Hortons, WSJ Reports

Burger King Worldwide Inc. is negotiating to buy Tim Hortons Inc. to reduce tax liabilities by moving the fast-food chain’s base to that of the Canadian coffee and doughnut chain, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

The two franchisers are in talks to create a new holding company that would create the world’s third-largest quick-service restaurant group, the newspaper reported, citing one of the people.

Deals by companies seeking to lower their corporate tax bill by acquiring and overseas rival drew criticism last month from President Barack Obama, and his aides vowed to curtail the practice with or without congressional approval. Between mid-June and late-July, when Obama ramped up his criticism of the deals, at least five large American companies announced plans for “inversions,” including AbbVie Inc. and Medtronic Inc.

Since the start of 2012, at least 21 U.S. companies have announced or completed such deals, or almost half the total of 51 such transactions in the last three decades.

Representatives for neither Burger King nor Tim Hortons immediately responded to calls for comment.

Tim Hortons, Canada’s biggest coffee merchant, has about 4,500 restaurants and is expanding its product lines to boost sales. The Oakville, Ontario-based company’s stock rose 2.8 percent to a record C$68.78 on Aug. 22. The restaurant operator posted results earlier this month that beat estimates and said fiscal 2014 profit will top or be at the high end of its target range.

Earlier this month, Burger King reported that revenue fell 6.1 percent to $261.2 million in the second quarter. Same-store sales in the U.S. and Canada rose 0.4 percent. The company has been trying to introduce fewer new items to make its kitchens faster and less complex.

Burger King rose 1 percent to $27.11 at the Aug. 22 close in New York. Burger King has gained 19 percent this year.

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