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Serving Canada to the world

From the March 2015 issue.

Burger King’s buyout of Tim Hortons has created one of the world’s largest quick-service businesses. It’s a deal, however, that has more than a few Canadians worried.

When Burger King merged with Tim Hortons in a US$12.5 billion buyout last December, it didn’t just take the reigns of a beloved Canadian fast food chain. It bought a national symbol.

For Canadians, the quick-serve restaurant is just as much a part of their national identity as hockey and maple syrup. Politicians are even known to use it as a backdrop during campaign stops to show how they are meeting with ordinary Canadians.

Tim Hortons holds such an emotional connection with Canadians that when the company announced the merger, it took out a two-page ad to assure people their coffee would remain the same before and after the deal.

But they weren’t the only ones who needed reassurance.

Before approving Brazilian investment firm 3G Capital’s takeover of the chain and its almost 4,600 outlets, Industry Canada delivered a strict set of guidelines aimed at helping Tim Hortons hold on to its Canadian identity.

The demands

Merged under Restaurant Brands International, the fast-food giants have 19,000 restaurants and approximately US$23 billion in sales, making it the third largest fast food company in the world.

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