UPDATE 1-Canada sees Burger King/Tim Hortons decision before Christmas

Fri Nov 21, 2014 3:03pm EST
 
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(Adds details on deadlines, background, paragraphs 4-6)

By Julie Gordon

VANCOUVER Nov 21 (Reuters) - The Canadian government will decide before Dec. 25 on whether to approve the takeover by U.S.-based Burger King Worldwide Inc of Canada's iconic coffee-and-donut Tim Hortons Inc, Industry Minister James Moore said on Friday.

"Soon, soon," the minister said, when asked by Reuters when a decision could be expected. "Before Christmas," he added.

Canada's Competition Bureau had last month already given its stamp of approval to the cash-and-stock deal worth C$12.64 billion ($11.25 billion). Moore has to decide on whether the foreign takeover is of net benefit to Canada.

A source familiar with the process told Reuters last week that Industry Canada had asked the companies for a 30-day extension on the review, beyond the initial 45-day review period.

Competition and anti-trust law experts however, say that a request for an extension on a deal of this magnitude and size is quite typical and not necessarily indicative of any hurdles or issues with a deal.

In August, Burger King agreed to buy Tim Hortons in a transaction which would create the world's third-largest fast-food restaurant group. Burger King plans to headquarter the new combined-entity in Canada, following the close of the deal.

(Additional reporting by Euan Rocha in Toronto; Writing by Randall Palmer; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)