A customer is served at the counter of a Tim Hortons donut shop in St.George, Ont. RICHARD BUCHAN/CP PHOTO

A customer is served at the counter of a Tim Hortons donut shop in St.George, Ont. RICHARD BUCHAN/CP PHOTO

David Friend reports in the Canadian Press that Tim Horton’s is shifting its corporate ownership back to Canada.

Considering that many Canadians practically bleed Tim Hortons coffee on any given workday, it may come as a surprise to some that the much-beloved chain is once again returning its home base to Canada.

Didn’t know Tims was actually based in the United States up until now? That’s easy to forgive, considering just how deeply ingrained the brand has become in the Canadian consciousness. But it is true that the house built on the doughnut and double-double was for nearly 15 years – a result of its purchase by U.S. burger chain Wendy’s – registered far away in the State of Delaware.

Parent company Tim Hortons Inc. (TSX: THI) announced Monday it has filed documents in the United States that would to shift its corporate ownership back north of the border. Its current Canadian headquarters is in Oakville, west of Toronto.

The company says the move – which it had said it was considering earlier this year – will save on taxes and make international expansion easier.

It certainly won’t hurt its image with Canadians either, because the famous chain is probably the country’s most-treasured brand.

Although it will have virtually no impact at all on its storefront operations, the announcement was well received by Tims fans, quickly garnering delighted comment on social networking Internet sites.

Tim Hortons, founded in the mid-’60s by Hamilton-born hockey legend Tim Horton, became part of Wendy’s in 1995, forging a partnership with its 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, Ont., 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.

The company’s shift back into Canada will create a domestic subsidiary with which Tims will merge, transforming it into a company incorporated under the Canada Business Corporations Act.

On Monday, executives from the company declined to comment on the changes, though they’ve been in the works for several quarters.

Earlier this year, president and CEO Don Schroeder told analysts in a conference call that it believed the move was beneficial for the company and its investors.

“With these assessments substantially complete management and the board concluded that a reorganization is in the best interests of the company and our shareholders over the long term, Schroeder said.”

He added that the change in “no way alters our commitment to growing our business in the U.S. or in any way affects our underlying business.”

Tim Horton’s has been a publicly traded company, listed on the Toronto and New York stock exchanges.

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.

The Star.com