Thursday, December 22, 2005

Canadians want more of Timmy's back

Wendy’s ownership of the Tim Horton’s donut chain has been a point of controversy among its shareholders for months. Now a pending partial divestiture is festering into an international incident.

Would-be stake-buyers from Horton’s native Canada are outraged because relatively few shares in the chain are expected to be offered north of the border, where “Timmy’s,” as it’s called, is as much of an institution as AM radio is here in the States.

“Those danged Americans have done us in again,” Keith Woolhouse wrote in today’s edition of the The Ottawa Citizen .

Wendy’s has said it would sell 15% to 18% of Horton’s in an initial public offering next year. According to Woolhouse’s story, only about a third of that stake will be available to investors in Canada, or less than 6% of the beloved brand.

The riled northerners point out that there are only 300 Horton’s outlets in the Lower 48, and they’re collectively not doing well, breaking even despite years of Wendy’s tutelage and retooling. The chain boasts more than 2,500 units in Canada, where people use it as they would the coffee station at work, stopping by several times a day for a refresher.

Relations between the U.S. and Canada are rocky enough already, given the nations’ widely disparate view of the war in Iraq. It be a shame to worsen relations over a Boston Creme.

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