Joyce sells shares worth US$250M to Wendy's

"I sold out my sweetheart…Given another chance, I'd never do that again." In 1995, he sold the entire $600-million operation to Wendy's, becoming the largest shareholder of the U.S. fast-food chain, acquiring 16.45 million shares in the transaction.

The National Post
October 20, 2001

Joyce sells shares worth US$250M to Wendy’s
Retires as director
David Steinhart

Ronald Joyce, founder of Tim Hortons Donuts and former part owner of the National Hockey League's Calgary Flames, yesterday sold US$250-million worth of shares in Wendy's International Inc. back to the company.

Wendy's said it had bought back about 9.7 million shares at US$25.75 each from Mr. Joyce at a 3% discount on Thursday's closing price.

Mr. Joyce, who still owns 5.7 million Wendy's shares, also retired as a director of the company. He will continue to serve as chairman of the Tim Horton Children's Foundation.

"This was an opportunity to diversify my portfolio," said Mr. Joyce, who has an estimated net worth of $800-million. "I have several other businesses and interests that I will continue to pursue. The Tim Hortons system has quality franchises that are second to none and the business is in great hands under the leadership of the senior management team."

Mr. Joyce, a former Hamilton, Ont., police officer, borrowed $10,000 to buy his first Tim Hortons franchise in 1965. After Mr. Horton — a legendary NHL defenceman whose prime years were spent with the Toronto Maple Leafs — died in a fiery 1974 car crash, Mr. Joyce bought out Mr. Horton's widow for $1-million.

In 1995, he sold the entire $600-million operation to Wendy's, becoming the largest shareholder of the U.S. fast-food chain, acquiring 16.45 million shares in the transaction.

"I sold out my sweetheart," he told the Financial Post this month. "Given another chance, I'd never do that again."

Mr. Joyce has always been innovative in his approach to business. When his interests needed his undivided attention, he got a commercial pilot's licence to make it easier to travel among the franchises.
Today, his private holding company, TDL Group, has a fleet of five jets, including the Challenger he uses to hop between homes in Fox Harbour, N.S., Burlington, Ont., and Calgary. As well, Mr. Joyce has built a thriving sideline, leasing the jets to corporate executives who are more reluctant than ever to take commercial flights since the terrorist attacks against the United States on Sept. 11.

Yesterday's transaction reduced Wendy's average common shares to approximately 113 million. The company, one of the world's largest restaurant operating and franchising companies, posted US$7.7-billion in sales last year. The hamburger side of the business was founded by Dave Thomas in 1969 and has become the third largest quick-service burger chain in the world with nearly 6,000 restaurants in the United States, Canada and international markets.

Wendy's used about US$50-million in available cash to complete the share repurchase transaction and borrowed the remainder. The transaction is expected to benefit earnings by 6¢ to 8¢ per share in 2002, depending on financial market conditions, the company said. Prior to the transaction, Wendy's had repurchased 23.4 million common shares for US$527.8-million since 1998.

"Ron's vision and energy have been invaluable to our franchise community and to our employees," said Paul House, president and chief executive at Tim Hortons. "Tim Hortons experienced tremendous growth under Ron's leadership and we will continue to count on his counsel and friendship."


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