Harper says Conservative tax policy helped repatriate the Timbit

To hear Prime Minister Stephen Harper tell it, his financial policies helped repatriate the Timbit.

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OAKVILLE, Ont. — To hear Prime Minister Stephen Harper tell it, his financial policies helped repatriate the Timbit.

Harper met with Tim Hortons executives today after shareholders of the multinational coffee chain voted to reorganize as a Canadian public company.

Parent company Tim Hortons Inc. (TSX:THI) announced in June that it intended to shift its corporate ownership back north of the border, saying it would save on taxes and make international expansion easier.

Following his meeting just west of Toronto in Oakville, Ont., Harper championed his tax policies, saying lower taxes are attracting business to Canada.

Harper says Tim Hortons’ decision to return to Canada from the United States shows the government’s tax strategy is working.

The iconic purveyor of coffee had been registered in Delaware for nearly 15 years as a result of its purchase by U.S. burger chain Wendy’s in the 1990s.

“Tim Hortons’ return in the midst of the global recession is a clear signal that Canada is poised to come out of these tough times stronger than ever,” Harper said.

“The path we are on will draw home many other Canadian companies and businesses, it will attract highly skilled immigrants here from all over the world.”

Tim Hortons, founded in the mid-’60s by Cochrane, Ont.-born hockey legend Tim Horton, became part of Wendy’s in 1995, forging a partnership led by Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas that saw the restaurants sit side-by-side at many locations.

After Thomas died in 2002, the two companies started to drift apart, with the doughnut chain choosing to focus on sandwiches and other breakfast and lunch options. The concept clashed with offerings from the Wendy’s brand.

In 2006, the company was spun off into its own American entity, though its corporate headquarters remained in Oakville and most of its stores are in Canada.

Since then, the chain has struggled to boost sales in the United States despite thriving in Canada.

It has been a publicly traded company, listed on the Toronto and New York stock exchanges, since Wendy’s first began to spin off its shares.

Shareholders will hold the same amount of stock as before, and the company will continue to operate under the Tim Hortons name with stock listings on the TSX and the New York Stock Exchange.

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