James Moore: Storm in a Canadian coffee cup over Tim Hortons deal

 

Outlook Canada looks set to lose one of its icons.

To visitors, Tim Hortons sells too-sweet coffee and doughnuts and is as ubiquitous as Costa Coffee is here. But to Canadians it’s one of the few genuinely iconic  national brands.

The company has played heavily on this in its marketing, sponsoring local ice-hockey teams and screening schmaltzy commercials featuring fathers and sons bonding at their games while sipping its signature beverage.

As such, its plans to sell up to the American as apple pie Burger King have created a real storm in a coffee cup. Even though it wasn’t so very long ago that Hortons was owned by another US burger chain, Wendy’s, and only moved its HQ back home five years ago.

As for Burger King, it might seem a US icon now, but at one point it was technically British, while under the ownership of what is now the drinks giant Diageo.

Ironically, despite all the fuss, Tim Hortons will continue to be incorporated in Canada because part of the deal’s rationale is the tax savings Burger King will make after the completion of the deal, that is being part funded by that icon of US capitalism Warren Buffet. It’s the same sort of tax inversion deal that Pfizer tried with AstraZeneca over here, and it won’t be the last of them.

If Canadians are cross about their perceived loss, Uncle Sam is hopping mad at the very real loss of tax. And you can hardly blame him.

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