Montreal (AFP) - Fast-food chain Burger King plans to buy Canadian chain Tim Hortons in an acquisition that will make it the world's third largest in the fast-food sector, the companies said.
Following the merger of the two groups, Burger King's majority shareholder, investment firm 3G Capital, will hold a majority in the new enterprise.
The remaining shares will be distributed between the current shareholders of Tim Hortons and Burger King. Both brand names will be retained.
The two companies' current market value is about $18 billion.
The two companies said in a joint statement that the new group will be traded and based in Canada, where the merged company's largest market is located.
A Canada home base will also permit the company to benefit from Ottawa's more favorable tax code.
Together, Burger King and Tim Hortons will have an estimated revenue of $22 billion a year from around 18,000 restaurants in 100 countries.
The two companies said, however, that the deal is not finalized, with negotiations still underway on the final agreements.
Founded in 1954 with a restaurant in Miami, Burger King became the world's second biggest hamburger chain, with 13,000 shops in nearly 100 countries. According to the company, it serves an average of 11 million customers a day.
Tim Horton, named after its founder, has become iconic on Canadian roadways since its first coffee and donut shop opened in 1964 in Hamilton, Ontario.
Horton, born in 1930, spent 22 years as a professional ice hockey player in Canada and the United States before opening his first restaurant.
He died in 1974 in a car crash coming home from a hockey match. At the time his chain had 40 shops -- it now boasts 4,546, of which 3,630 are in Canada.