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Mar 30, 2020

Tim Hortons parent pays franchisees, defers rent amid pandemic

'This is a moment where we can use our balance sheet to help our franchise owners': Restaurant Brands CEO

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Restaurant Brands International Inc. is boosting aid to its restaurants as it looks to contain any potential store closures and prevent mass layoffs amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The company, which owns Tim Hortons, Burger King, and Popeyes Louisiana Chicken fast-food chains, will provide US$70 million in cash payments to its franchise owners as well as defer rent payments for its North American Tim Hortons and Burger King locations and any capital expenditures it obligated franchises to undertake this year.

RBI chief executive officer Jose Cil announced the measures in an open letter to its staff published late Monday that also addresses additional hygiene and safety measures aimed to combat the spread of the coronavirus. 

"We are maintaining a strong balance sheet and thoughtfully managing our company’s liquidity so we can exit this crisis well-positioned to continue our journey of global growth with our dedicated partners around the world," Cil said in the letter. 

In addition to the measures, Cil said the company has about US$1.5 billion in cash and has bolstered its balance sheet from fully drawing down its $1 billion revolving credit facility. 

"This has provided us the flexibility to confidently support our restaurant owners and employees throughout this uncertain time and maintain our focus on supporting our brands for the long term by making the right decisions today," Cil said. 

The company announced earlier this month it will provide up to $40 million in funding for its Canadian Tim Hortons staff affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. It will also provide compensation for up to 14 days of scheduled work hours for any hourly employee.