Company Quick10K Filing
Restaurant Brands International
Price1.00 EPS-1,155,000,000
Shares-0 P/E-0
MCap-0 P/FCF-0
Net Debt10,858 EBIT1,387
TEV10,858 TEV/EBIT8
TTM 2019-09-30, in MM, except price, ratios
10-K 2020-12-31 Filed 2021-02-23
10-K 2020-12-31 Filed 2021-02-23
10-Q 2020-09-30 Filed 2020-10-28
10-Q 2020-09-30 Filed 2020-10-28
10-Q 2020-06-30 Filed 2020-08-06
10-Q 2020-06-30 Filed 2020-08-06
10-Q 2020-03-31 Filed 2020-05-01
10-Q 2020-03-31 Filed 2020-05-01
10-K 2019-12-31 Filed 2020-02-21
10-K 2019-12-31 Filed 2020-02-21
10-Q 2019-09-30 Filed 2019-10-28
10-Q 2019-09-30 Filed 2019-10-28
10-Q 2019-06-30 Filed 2019-08-02
10-Q 2019-06-30 Filed 2019-08-02
10-Q 2019-03-31 Filed 2019-04-29
10-Q 2019-03-31 Filed 2019-04-29
10-K 2018-12-31 Filed 2019-02-22
10-K 2018-12-31 Filed 2019-02-22
10-Q 2018-09-30 Filed 2018-10-24
10-Q 2018-06-30 Filed 2018-08-01
10-Q 2018-03-31 Filed 2018-04-25
10-K 2017-12-31 Filed 2018-02-23
10-Q 2017-09-30 Filed 2017-10-26
10-Q 2017-06-30 Filed 2017-08-02
10-Q 2017-03-31 Filed 2017-04-26
10-K 2016-12-31 Filed 2017-02-17
10-Q 2016-09-30 Filed 2016-10-24
10-Q 2016-06-30 Filed 2016-08-04
10-Q 2016-03-31 Filed 2016-04-29
10-K 2015-12-31 Filed 2016-02-26
10-Q 2015-09-30 Filed 2015-10-30
10-Q 2015-06-30 Filed 2015-07-31
10-Q 2015-03-31 Filed 2015-05-05
10-K 2014-12-31 Filed 2015-03-12
8-K 2020-11-09
8-K 2020-11-02
8-K 2020-10-27
8-K 2020-10-20
8-K 2020-10-20
8-K 2020-10-14
8-K 2020-10-14
8-K 2020-10-13
8-K 2020-10-05
8-K 2020-09-22
8-K 2020-09-16
8-K 2020-09-16
8-K 2020-09-11
8-K 2020-08-06
8-K 2020-08-04
8-K 2020-06-29
8-K 2020-06-10
8-K 2020-05-28
8-K 2020-05-01
8-K 2020-04-24
8-K 2020-04-07
8-K 2020-04-02
8-K 2020-04-02
8-K 2020-03-30
8-K 2020-02-10
8-K 2019-12-27
8-K 2019-11-19
8-K 2019-11-14
8-K 2019-10-28
8-K 2019-10-28
8-K 2019-10-21
8-K 2019-09-24
8-K 2019-09-06
8-K 2019-09-03
8-K 2019-08-13
8-K 2019-08-08
8-K 2019-08-02
8-K 2019-08-02
8-K 2019-06-28
8-K 2019-06-11
8-K 2019-04-29
8-K 2019-04-29
8-K 2019-03-14
8-K 2019-02-11
8-K 2019-02-11
8-K 2019-01-22
8-K 2018-10-24
8-K 2018-10-24
8-K 2018-10-02
8-K 2018-08-01
8-K 2018-06-07
8-K 2018-04-24
8-K 2018-02-12
8-K 2018-01-16

QSR 10K Annual Report

Part I
Item 1. Business
Item 1A. Risk Factors
Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments
Item 2. Properties
Item 3. Legal Proceedings
Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures
Part II
Item 5. Market for Registrant's Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
Item 6. Selected Financial Data
Item 7. Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations
Item 7A. Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk
Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data
Note 1. Description of Business and Organization
Note 2. Significant Accounting Policies
Note 3. Earnings per Share
Note 4. Property and Equipment, Net
Note 5. Intangible Assets, Net and Goodwill
Note 6. Equity Method Investments
Note 7. Other Accrued Liabilities and Other Liabilities
Note 8. Long - Term Debt
Note 9. Leases
Note 10. Income Taxes
Note 11. Derivative Instruments
Note 12. Shareholders' Equity
Note 13. Share - Based Compensation
Note 14. Revenue Recognition
Note 15. Other Operating Expenses (Income), Net
Note 16. Commitments and Contingencies
Note 17. Segment Reporting and Geographical Information
Note 18. Quarterly Financial Data (Unaudited)
Note 19. Subsequent Events
Item 9. Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure
Item 9A. Controls and Procedures
Item 9B. Other Items
Item 5.02 Departure of Directors or Certain Officers; Appointment of Certain Officers; Compensatory Arrangements of Certain Officers
Part III
Item 10. Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance
Item 11. Executive Compensation
Item 12. Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters
Item 13. Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence
Item 14. Principal Accounting Fees and Services
Part IV
Item 15. Exhibits and Financial Statement Schedules
Item 16. Form 10 - K Summary
EX-10.36B qsr_20201231x10kxex1036b.htm
EX-10.36C qsr_20201231x10kxex1036c.htm
EX-10.36D qsr_20201231x10kxex1036d.htm
EX-10.36E qsr_20201231x10kxex1036e.htm
EX-10.32 qsr_20201231x10kxex1032.htm
EX-10.76 qsr_20201231x10kxex1076.htm
EX-21.1 qsr_20201231x10kxexhibit211.htm
EX-23.1 qsr_20201231x10kxexhibit231.htm
EX-31.1 qsr_20201231xex-311.htm
EX-31.2 qsr_20201231xex-312.htm
EX-32.1 qsr_20201231xex-321.htm
EX-32.2 qsr_20201231xex-322.htm

Restaurant Brands International Earnings 2020-12-31

Balance SheetIncome StatementCash Flow
25201510502013201520172020
Assets, Equity
1.51.10.70.4-0.0-0.42013201520172020
Rev, G Profit, Net Income
0.90.1-0.7-1.5-2.3-3.12013201520172020
Ops, Inv, Fin

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Table of Contents

UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
 
Form 10-K
 
(Mark One)
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 or 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2020
or
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the transition period from                      to                     
Commission file number: 001-36786
 
 RESTAURANT BRANDS INTERNATIONAL INC.
(Exact name of Registrant as Specified in Its Charter)
  
Canada98-1202754
(State or Other Jurisdiction of
Incorporation or Organization)
(I.R.S. Employer
Identification No.)
130 King Street West, Suite 300M5X 1E1
Toronto,Ontario
(Address of Principal Executive Offices)(Zip Code)
(905) 339-6011
Registrant’s telephone number, including area code

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Title of each classTrading SymbolsName of each exchange on which registered
Common Shares, without par valueQSRNew York Stock Exchange
Toronto Stock Exchange
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act:
None
 
Indicate by check mark if the Registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.    Yes      No  
Indicate by check mark if the Registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act.    Yes      No  
Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.    Yes      No  ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§ 232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files).    Yes       No  ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
Large accelerated filer   Accelerated filer 
Non-accelerated filer   Smaller reporting company 
Emerging growth company
If an emerging growth company, indicate by checkmark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act.  ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report.  
Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act).    Yes      No  
The aggregate market value of the common equity held by non-affiliates of the registrant on June 30, 2020, computed by reference to the closing price for such stock on the New York Stock Exchange on such date, was $16,357,377,151.
The number of shares outstanding of the registrant’s common shares as of February 15, 2021 was 305,144,809 shares.
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE:
Portions of the registrant’s definitive proxy statement for the 2021 Annual General Meeting of Shareholders, which is to be filed no later than 120 days after December 31, 2020, are incorporated by reference into Part III of this Form 10-K.



Table of Contents
RESTAURANT BRANDS INTERNATIONAL INC.
2020 FORM 10-K ANNUAL REPORT
TABLE OF CONTENTS
 
  Page
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Item 1B.
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Tim Hortons® and Timbits® are trademarks of Tim Hortons Canadian IP Holdings Corporation. Burger King® and BK® are trademarks of Burger King Corporation. Popeyes®, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen® and Popeyes Chicken & Biscuits® are trademarks of Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Inc. Unless the context otherwise requires, all references to “we”, “us”, “our” and “Company” refer to Restaurant Brands International Inc. and its subsidiaries.

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Table of Contents
Explanatory Note
We are the sole general partner of Restaurant Brands International Limited Partnership (“Partnership”), which is the indirect parent of The TDL Group Corp. (“Tim Hortons”), Burger King Corporation (“Burger King”) and Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Inc. (“Popeyes”). As a result of our controlling interest, we consolidate the financial results of Partnership and record a noncontrolling interest for the portion of Partnership we do not own in our consolidated financial statements. Net income (loss) attributable to noncontrolling interests on the consolidated statements of operations presents the portion of earnings or loss attributable to the economic interest in Partnership owned by the holders of the noncontrolling interests. As sole general partner, we manage all of Partnership’s operations and activities in accordance with the partnership agreement of Partnership (the “partnership agreement”). We have established a conflicts committee composed entirely of “independent directors” (as such term is defined in the partnership agreement) in order to consent to, approve or direct various enumerated actions on behalf of the Company (in its capacity as the general partner of Partnership) in accordance with the terms of the partnership agreement.
Pursuant to Rule 12g-3(a) under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”), we are a successor issuer to Burger King Worldwide, Inc. Our common shares trade on the New York Stock Exchange and the Toronto Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “QSR”. In addition, the Class B exchangeable limited partnership units of Partnership (the “Partnership exchangeable units”) are deemed to be registered under Section 12(b) of the Exchange Act, and Partnership is subject to the informational requirements of the Exchange Act and the rules and regulations promulgated thereunder. The Partnership exchangeable units trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “QSP”.
Each of the Company and Partnership is a reporting issuer in each of the provinces and territories of Canada and, as a result, is subject to Canadian continuous disclosure and other reporting obligations under applicable Canadian securities laws. This Annual Report on Form 10-K constitutes the Company’s Annual Information Form for purposes of its Canadian continuous disclosure obligations under National Instrument 51-102 – Continuous Disclosure Obligations (“NI 51-102”). Pursuant to an application for exemptive relief made in accordance with National Policy 11-203 – Process for Exemptive Relief Applications in Multiple Jurisdictions, Partnership has received exemptive relief dated October 31, 2014 from the Canadian securities regulators. This exemptive relief exempts Partnership from the continuous disclosure requirements of NI 51-102, effectively allowing Partnership to satisfy its Canadian continuous disclosure obligations by relying on the Canadian continuous disclosure documents filed by the Company, for so long as certain conditions are satisfied. Among these conditions is a requirement that Partnership concurrently send to all holders of the Partnership exchangeable units all disclosure materials that the Company sends to its shareholders and a requirement that Partnership separately report all material changes in respect of Partnership that are not also material changes in respect of the Company.
All references to “$” or “dollars” in this report are to the currency of the United States unless otherwise indicated. All references to “Canadian dollars” or “C$” are to the currency of Canada unless otherwise indicated.

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Table of Contents
Part I
Item 1. Business
Company Overview
We are a Canadian corporation that serves as the indirect holding company for Tim Hortons, Burger King and Popeyes and their consolidated subsidiaries. We are one of the world’s largest quick service restaurant (“QSR”) companies with approximately $31 billion in system-wide sales and approximately 27,000 restaurants in more than 100 countries as of December 31, 2020. Our Tim Hortons®, Burger King® and Popeyes® brands have similar franchise business models with complementary daypart mixes and product platforms. Our three iconic brands are managed independently while benefiting from global scale and sharing of best practices. As of December 31, 2020, approximately 100% of total restaurants for each of our brands was franchised and references to "our restaurants" or "system-wide restaurants" include franchised restaurants and those owned by us ("Company restaurants").
Our business generates revenue from the following sources: (i) franchise revenues, consisting primarily of royalties based on a percentage of sales reported by franchise restaurants and franchise fees paid by franchisees; (ii) property revenues from properties we lease or sublease to franchisees; and (iii) sales at Company restaurants. In addition, our Tim Hortons business generates revenue from sales to franchisees related to our supply chain operations, including manufacturing, procurement, warehousing and distribution, as well as sales to retailers.
Our Tim Hortons® Brand
Founded in 1964, Tim Hortons (“TH”) is one of the largest donut/coffee/tea restaurant chains in North America and the largest in Canada as measured by total number of restaurants. As of December 31, 2020, we owned or franchised a total of 4,949 TH restaurants. TH restaurants are quick service restaurants with a menu that includes premium blend coffee, tea, espresso-based hot and cold specialty drinks, fresh baked goods, including donuts, Timbits®, bagels, muffins, cookies and pastries, grilled paninis, classic sandwiches, wraps, soups and more.
Our Burger King® Brand
Founded in 1954, Burger King (“BK”) is the world’s second largest fast food hamburger restaurant (“FFHR”) chain as measured by total number of restaurants. As of December 31, 2020, we owned or franchised a total of 18,625 BK restaurants in more than 100 countries. BK restaurants are quick service restaurants that feature flame-grilled hamburgers, chicken and other specialty sandwiches, french fries, soft drinks and other food items.
Our Popeyes® Brand
Founded in 1972, Popeyes (“PLK”) is the world’s second largest quick service chicken concept as measured by total number of restaurants. As of December 31, 2020, we owned or franchised a total of 3,451 PLK restaurants. PLK restaurants are quick service restaurants that distinguish themselves with a unique “Louisiana” style menu featuring fried chicken, chicken tenders, fried shrimp and other seafood, red beans and rice and other regional items.
COVID-19 Response
The global crisis resulting from the spread of coronavirus (“COVID-19”) has had a substantial impact on our global restaurant operations for 2020. During 2020, some TH, BK and PLK restaurants were temporarily closed in certain countries and many of the restaurants that remained open had limited operations, such as drive-thru, takeout and delivery (where applicable). As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have enhanced our standards regarding hand washing, sanitization, health and hygiene, and contact-less procedures. Additionally, changes in consumer behavior due to the pandemic increased our focus on the use of technology to meet our guests’ rapidly-evolving needs through the expansion of the number of restaurants offering delivery, the improvement of our mobile app guest experience, and the evolution of the Tims Rewards program to increase digital registration and begin extending personalized offers. Our operating results substantially depend upon our franchisees’ sales volumes, restaurant profitability, and financial stability. The financial impact of COVID-19 has had an adverse effect on many of our franchisees’ liquidity and we have worked closely with our franchisees to monitor and assist them with access to appropriate sources of liquidity in order to sustain their businesses throughout this crisis, such as offering rent relief programs for eligible franchisees who lease property from us. We also provided cash flow support in 2020 by extending loans to eligible BK franchisees in the U.S. and by advancing certain cash payments to eligible TH franchisees in Canada.

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Table of Contents
Our Business Strategy
We believe that we have created a financially strong company built upon a foundation of three thriving, independent brands with significant global growth potential and the opportunity to be one of the most efficient franchised QSR operators in the world through our focus on the following strategies:
 
accelerating net restaurant growth;
enhancing guest service and experience at our restaurants through comprehensive training, improved restaurant operations, reimaged restaurants and appealing menu options;
increasing restaurant sales and profitability which are critical to the success of our franchise partners and our ability to grow our brands around the world;
strengthening drive thru and delivery channels to provide guests convenient access to our product offerings;
utilizing technological and digital initiatives, including loyalty programs, to interact with our guests and modernize the operations of our restaurants;
efficiently managing costs and sharing best practices; and
preserving the rich heritage of each of our brands by managing them and their respective franchisee relationships independently and continuing to play a prominent role in local communities.
Operating Segments
Our business consists of three operating segments, which are also our reportable segments: (1) TH; (2) BK; and (3) PLK. Additional financial information about our reportable segments can be found in “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.”
Restaurant Development
As part of our development approach for our brands in the U.S., we have granted limited development rights in specific areas to franchisees in connection with area development agreements. We expect to enter into similar arrangements in 2021 and beyond. In Canada, we have not granted exclusive or protected areas to BK or TH franchisees, with limited exceptions.
As part of our international growth strategy for all of our brands, we have established master franchise and development agreements in a number of markets. We have also created strategic master franchise joint ventures in which we received a meaningful minority equity stake in each joint venture. We will continue to evaluate opportunities to accelerate international development of all three of our brands, including through the establishment of master franchises with exclusive development rights and joint ventures with new and existing franchisees.
Advertising and Promotions
In general, franchisees fund substantially all of the marketing programs for each of our brands by making contributions ranging from 2.0% to 5.0% of gross sales to advertising funds managed by us or by the franchisees. Advertising contributions are used to pay for expenses relating to marketing, advertising and promotion, including market research, production, advertising costs, sales promotions, social media campaigns, technology initiatives and other support functions for the respective brands.
We manage the advertising funds for each of our brands in the U.S. and Canada, as well as in certain other markets for BK. However, in many international markets, including the markets managed by master franchisees, franchisees make contributions into franchisee-managed advertising funds. As part of our global marketing strategy, we provide franchisees with advertising support and guidance in order to deliver a consistent global brand message.
Product Development
New product development is a key driver of the long-term success of our brands. We believe the development of new products can drive traffic by expanding our customer base, allowing restaurants to expand into new dayparts, and continuing to build brand leadership in food quality and taste. Based on guest feedback, we drive product innovation in order to satisfy the needs of our guests around the world. This strategy will continue to be a focus in 2021 and beyond.
Operations Support
Our operations strategy is designed to deliver best-in-class restaurant operations by our franchisees and to improve friendliness, cleanliness, speed of service and overall guest satisfaction. Each of our brands has uniform operating standards and specifications relating to product quality, cleanliness and maintenance of the premises. In addition, our restaurants are required to be operated in accordance with quality assurance and health standards that each brand has established, as well as standards set by applicable governmental laws and regulations, including new local, provincial and state laws regarding COVID-19 and Center for Disease
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Control and similar health authority guidelines. Each franchisee typically participates in initial and ongoing training programs to learn all aspects of operating a restaurant in accordance with each brand’s operating standards.
Manufacturing, Supply and Distribution
In general, we approve the manufacturers of the food, packaging, equipment and other products used in restaurants for each of our brands. We have a comprehensive supplier approval process, which requires all food and packaging products to pass our quality standards and the suppliers’ manufacturing process and facilities to pass on-site food safety inspections. Our franchisees are required to purchase substantially all food and other products from approved suppliers and distributors.
TH products are sourced from a combination of third-party suppliers and our own manufacturing facilities. To protect our proprietary blends, we operate two coffee roasting facilities in Ancaster, Ontario and Rochester, New York, where we blend all of the coffee for our TH restaurants and, where practical, for our take home, packaged coffee. Our fondant and fills manufacturing facility in Oakville, Ontario produces, and is the primary supplier of, the ready-to-use glaze, fondants, fills and syrups which are used in a number of TH products. As of December 31, 2020, we have only one or a few suppliers to service each category of products sold at our restaurants.
We sell most raw materials and supplies, including coffee, sugar, paper goods and other restaurant supplies, to TH restaurants in Canada and the U.S. We purchase those raw materials from multiple suppliers and generally have alternative sources of supply for each. While we have multiple suppliers for coffee from various coffee-producing regions, the available supply and price for high-quality coffee beans can fluctuate dramatically. Accordingly, we monitor world market conditions for green (unroasted) coffee and contract for future supply volumes to obtain expected requirements of high-quality coffee beans at acceptable prices.
Our TH business has significant supply chain operations, including procurement, warehousing and distribution, to supply paper, dry goods, frozen goods and refrigerated products to a substantial majority of our Canadian restaurants. We act as a distributor to TH restaurants in Canada through nine distribution centers located in Canada, of which five are company-owned, including three warehouses that were newly built or renovated and opened in 2020, and cover approximately 90% of the volume. We own or lease a significant number of trucks and trailers that regularly deliver to most of our Canadian restaurants. In the U.S., we supply similar products to restaurants through third-party distributors.
All of the products used in our BK and PLK restaurants are sourced from third-party suppliers. In the U.S. and Canada, there is a purchasing cooperative for each brand that negotiates the purchase terms for most equipment, food, beverages (other than branded soft drinks which we negotiate separately under long-term agreements) and other products used in BK and PLK restaurants. The purchasing agent is also authorized to purchase and manage distribution services on behalf of most of the BK and PLK restaurants in the U.S. and Canada. PLK also utilizes exclusive suppliers for certain of its proprietary products. As of December 31, 2020, four distributors serviced approximately 92% of BK restaurants in the U.S. and five distributors serviced approximately 92% of PLK restaurants in the U.S.
In 2000, Burger King Corporation entered into long-term exclusive contracts with The Coca-Cola Company and Dr Pepper/Snapple, Inc. to supply BK restaurants with their products and which obligate restaurants in the U.S. to purchase a specified number of gallons of soft drink syrup. These volume commitments are not subject to any time limit. As of December 31, 2020, we estimate that it will take approximately 6.6 years to complete the Coca-Cola purchase commitment and approximately 9.9 years to complete the Dr Pepper/Snapple, Inc. purchase commitment. If these agreements were terminated, we would be obligated to pay an aggregate amount equal to approximately $343 million as of December 31, 2020 based on an amount per gallon for each gallon of soft drink syrup remaining in the purchase commitments, interest and certain other costs. We have also entered into long-term beverage supply arrangements with certain major beverage vendors for the TH and PLK brands in the U.S. and Canada.
Franchise Agreements and Other Arrangements
General. We grant franchisees the right to operate restaurants using our trademarks, trade dress and other intellectual property, uniform operating procedures, consistent quality of products and services and standard procedures for inventory control and management. For each franchise restaurant, we generally enter into a franchise agreement covering a standard set of terms and conditions. Recurring fees consist of periodic royalty and advertising payments. Franchisees report gross sales on a monthly or weekly basis and pay royalties based on gross sales.
Franchise agreements are generally not assignable without our consent. In Canada and the U.S., our TH franchise agreements grant us the right to reacquire a restaurant under certain circumstances, and our BK and PLK franchise agreements generally provide us a right of first refusal if a franchisee proposes to sell a restaurant. Defaults (including non-payment of royalties or advertising contributions, or failure to operate in compliance with our standards) can lead to termination of the franchise agreement.
U.S. and Canada. TH franchisees in the U.S. and Canada operate under several types of license agreements, with a typical term for a standard restaurant of 10 years plus renewal period(s) of 10 years in the aggregate for Canada and a typical term of 20 years for
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the U.S. TH franchisees who lease land and/or buildings from us typically pay a royalty of 3.0% to 4.5% of weekly restaurant gross sales. Our license agreements contemplate a one-time franchise fee which must be paid in full before the restaurant opens for business and upon the grant of an additional term. Under a separate lease or sublease, TH franchisees typically pay monthly rent based on the greater of a fixed monthly payment and contingent rental payments based on a percentage (usually 8.5% to 10.0%) of monthly gross sales or flow through monthly rent based on the terms of an underlying lease. Where the franchisee owns the premises, leases it from a third party or enters into a flow through lease with TH, the royalty is typically increased. In addition, the royalty rates under license agreements entered into in connection with non-standard restaurants, including self-serve kiosks and strategic alliances with third parties, may vary from those described above and are negotiated on a case-by-case basis.
The typical BK and PLK franchise agreement in the U.S. and Canada has a 20-year term and contemplates a one-time franchise fee plus an additional fee upon renewal. Subject to the incentive programs described below, most new BK franchise restaurants in the U.S. and Canada pay a royalty on gross sales of 4.5% and most PLK restaurants in the U.S. and Canada pay a royalty on gross sales of 5.0%. BK franchise agreements typically provide for a 20-year renewal term, and PLK franchise agreements typically provide for two 10-year renewal terms. In addition, PLK franchisees pay a technology fee on all digital sales through our proprietary technology.
In an effort to improve the image of our BK restaurants in the U.S., we offered U.S. franchisees reduced up-front franchise fees and limited-term royalty and advertising fund rate reductions to remodel restaurants to our modern image during the past several years and we plan to continue to offer remodel incentives to U.S. franchisees during 2021. These limited-term incentive programs are expected to negatively impact our effective royalty rate until 2027. However, we expect this impact to be partially mitigated as incentive programs granted in prior years will expire and we will also be entering into new franchise agreements for BK restaurants in the U.S. with a 4.5% royalty rate. For PLK, we offer development incentive programs pursuant to which we encourage veterans, women or minorities to become PLK franchisees and develop and open new restaurants.
International. As part of the international growth strategy for each of our brands, we have entered into master franchise agreements or development agreements that grant franchisees exclusive or non-exclusive development rights and, in some cases, allow them to sub-franchise or require them to provide support services to other franchisees in their markets. In 2020, we entered into master franchise agreements for the TH brand in the Middle East, including United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman and Saudi Arabia, and for the BK brand in Switzerland and in Scandinavia, including Norway, Sweden and Denmark. The franchise fees, royalty rate and advertising contributions, if applicable, paid by master franchisees or developers vary from country to country, depending on the facts and circumstances of each market. We expect to continue implementing similar arrangements for our brands in 2021 and beyond.
Franchise Restaurant Leases. We leased or subleased 3,586 properties to TH franchisees, 1,449 properties to BK franchisees, and 81 properties to PLK franchisees as of December 31, 2020 pursuant to separate lease agreements with these franchisees. For properties that we lease from third-party landlords and sublease to franchisees, our leases generally provide for fixed rental payments and may provide for contingent rental payments based on a restaurant’s annual gross sales. Franchisees who lease land only or land and building from us do so on a “triple net” basis. Under these triple net leases, the franchisee is obligated to pay all costs and expenses, including all real property taxes and assessments, repairs and maintenance and insurance.
Intellectual Property
We own valuable intellectual property relating to our brands, including trademarks, service marks, patents, industrial designs, copyrights, trade secrets and other proprietary information, some of which are of material importance to our TH, BK and PLK businesses. The duration of trademarks and service marks varies by country, however, trademarks and service marks generally are valid and may be renewed as long as they are in use and/or properly registered. We have established the standards and specifications for most of the goods and services used in the development, improvement and operation of our restaurants. These proprietary standards, specifications and restaurant operating procedures are our trade secrets. Additionally, we own certain patents and industrial designs of varying duration relating to equipment and packaging used in BK and TH restaurants.
Information Systems and Digital Technology
Our corporate financial, human resources and similar systems are fully integrated across our brands and provide a solid foundation for our business. Our restaurant information systems are provided by a set of approved third-party vendors that provide point of sale software. Depending on the region, these vendors may also provide labor scheduling, inventory, production management, and cash control services. We have an architecture that enables us to build custom customer-facing applications and integrate them with our third-party providers, to support mobile ordering, web ordering, and kiosks. As of the end of 2020, we have deployed this architecture in the U.S., Canada and the U.K., and we plan to deploy it to additional markets in the future.
During 2020, the use of our mobile apps and digital technologies expanded significantly and we were able to provide our guests added convenience by increasing the number of home market restaurants offering third party and white label delivery. Further, we are modernizing the drive-thru experience with the rollout of outdoor digital menu boards for all three brands in their home markets. We plan to leverage our technology capabilities to continue to expand the choices for how customers order, pay and receive their food.
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Although many of our systems are provided through third parties, we have the ability to obtain transaction-level data from most of our franchised restaurants and from Company restaurants.  This allows us to assess how our new and existing products are performing around the world.  Additionally, we have been investing to upgrade our supply chain systems and improve efficiency. We expect to continue to invest in technology capabilities to support and drive our business.
Competition
Each of our brands competes in the U.S., Canada and internationally with many well-established food service companies on the basis of product choice, quality, affordability, service and location. With few barriers to entry to the restaurant industry, our competitors include a variety of independent local operators, in addition to well-capitalized regional, national and international restaurant chains and franchises, and new competitors may emerge at any time. We also compete for consumer dining dollars with national, regional and local (i) quick service restaurants that offer alternative menus, (ii) casual and “fast casual” restaurant chains (iii) convenience stores and grocery stores, and (iv) new concepts, such as virtual brands and dark kitchens. Furthermore, delivery aggregators and other food delivery services provide consumers with convenient access to a broad range of competing restaurant chains and food retailers, particularly in urban areas.
Government Regulations and Affairs
General. We and our franchisees are subject to various laws and regulations including (i) licensing and regulation relating to health, food preparation, sanitation and safety standards and, for our distribution business, traffic and transportation regulations; (ii) information security, privacy and consumer protection laws; and (iii) other laws regulating the design, accessibility and operation of facilities, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act and similar Canadian federal and provincial legislation that can have a significant impact on our franchisees and our performance. These regulations include food safety regulations, including supervision by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and its international equivalents, which govern the manufacture, labeling, packaging and safety of food. In addition, we are or may become subject to legislation or regulation seeking to tax and/or regulate high-fat, high-calorie and high-sodium foods, particularly in Canada, the U.S., the United Kingdom and Spain. Certain countries, provinces, states and municipalities have approved menu labeling legislation that requires restaurant chains to provide caloric information on menu boards, and menu labeling legislation has also been adopted on the U.S. federal level as well as in Ontario.
U.S. and Canada. Our restaurants must comply with licensing requirements and regulations by a number of governmental authorities, which include zoning, health, safety, sanitation, building and fire agencies in the jurisdiction in which the restaurant is located. We and our franchisees are also subject to various employment laws, including laws governing union organizing, working conditions, work authorization requirements, health insurance, overtime and wages. In addition, we and our U.S. franchisees are subject to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
We are subject to federal franchising laws adopted by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (the “FTC”) and state and provincial franchising laws. Much of the legislation and rules adopted have been aimed at providing detailed disclosure to a prospective franchisee, duties of good faith as between the franchisor and the franchisee, and/or periodic registration by the franchisor with applicable regulatory agencies. Additionally, some U.S. states have enacted or are considering enacting legislation that governs the termination or non-renewal of a franchise agreement and other aspects of the franchise relationship.
International. Internationally, we and our franchisees are subject to national and local laws and regulations that often are similar in nature to those affecting us and our franchisees in the U.S. and Canada. We and our franchisees are also subject to a variety of tariffs and regulations on imported commodities and equipment, and laws regulating foreign investment.
Environmental. Various laws concerning the handling, storage and disposal of hazardous materials and restaurant waste and the operation of restaurants in environmentally sensitive locations may impact aspects of our operations and the operations of our franchisees; however, we do not believe that compliance with applicable environmental regulations will have a material effect on our capital expenditures, financial condition, results of operations, or competitive position. Increased focus by U.S., Canadian and international governmental authorities on environmental matters is likely to lead to new governmental initiatives, particularly in the area of climate change. While we cannot predict the precise nature of these initiatives, we expect that they may impact our business both directly and indirectly. There is a possibility that government initiatives, or actual or perceived effect of changes in weather patterns, climate or water resources could have a direct impact on the operations of our brands in ways that we cannot predict at this time.
Sustainability
We are committed to the simple principle of doing what’s right. Our “Restaurant Brands for Good” plan provides a framework for serving our guests the food and drinks they love while contributing to a sustainable future and having a positive social impact in the communities we serve. Our ongoing efforts will focus on three key pillars:
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Food - serving high quality and great tasting food every day with a focus on food safety, improving choice, nutrition, transparency, and ingredients;
Planet - continuing to reduce our environmental footprint, with a focus on packaging and recycling, green buildings, and responsible sourcing; and
People & Communities - supporting communities and enhancing livelihoods, with a focus on supporting communities, talent development, diversity and inclusion, ethics and human rights, and improving supplier livelihoods.
The sustainability section of our corporate website sets forth our initiatives with respect to these pillars and will be updated periodically.
Seasonal Operations
Our restaurant sales are typically higher in the spring and summer months when the weather is warmer and typically lowest during the winter months. Furthermore, adverse weather conditions can have material adverse effects on restaurant sales. The timing of holidays may also impact restaurant sales. Because our businesses are moderately seasonal, results for any one quarter are not necessarily indicative of the results that may be achieved for any other quarter or for the full fiscal year.
Human Capital
As of December 31, 2020, we had approximately 5,200 employees, including approximately 1,400 corporate employees in our restaurant support centers and serving our franchisees from the field, approximately 1,100 employees in our distribution centers and manufacturing facilities, and approximately 2,700 employees in Company restaurants. Our franchisees are independent business owners that separately employ more than 500,000 team members in their restaurants.
At RBI, we strive to create a workplace environment where our employees love coming to work each day; a place that is committed to inclusion, respect, accountability and doing what is right. While our board regularly receives updates from our People team, the compensation committee has oversight of our compensation program and the audit committee has been tasked with oversight of workforce management risks. Our People team is organized into four pillars that focus on attracting, retaining, developing and rewarding top talent.
The cycle starts with attracting talent from campus and professional sources, leveraging technology to identify and assess candidates who best fit our roles. As part of our hiring process, we committed in June 2020 that at least half of all final-round candidates interviewing for roles with our four RBI restaurant support centers will be from groups that are demonstrably diverse, including gender, race and sexual orientation, based on the composition and requirements of the applicable jurisdiction. Since our commitment, we have meaningfully exceeded that target, leading to an increase in diverse hires. In 2020, RBI hired approximately 330 new corporate employees, 3,600 new restaurant employees, and 380 new distribution and manufacturing employees. Our distribution team worked diligently to open three new or renovated facilities to serve Tim Hortons restaurants in 2020, contributing to the hiring increase amongst that population. Each population segment has a dedicated onboarding program designed to get employees up to speed quickly, and foster a smooth transition into the workplace.
The retention efforts focus on the work environment, employee engagement and our diversity and inclusion initiatives. We regularly conduct anonymous surveys to seek feedback from our restaurant support center employees on a variety of topics, including our sustainability and diversity initiatives, implicit bias training globally, how they are coping working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, the support they receive from their managers, and what types of learning and development opportunities they would like to have offered. In 2019, we created a diversity and inclusion steering committee that is creating strategies for promoting diversity and inclusion. To ensure that the work of the Steering Committee is fully integrated, we have dedicated team members within the people and legal teams to implement initiatives in this space.
Developing talent includes evaluation, training, career planning and leadership development. We have a rigorous talent assessment process for restaurant support center employees built on specific competencies that we assess at both the employee and job level. This data allows us to more easily identify potential successors and illuminate potential opportunities for our employees in a more objective and unbiased way. Additionally, to help our employees and franchisee’s team members succeed in their roles, we emphasize continuous training and development opportunities. These include, but are not limited to, safety and security protocols, updates on new products and service offerings and deployment of technologies. In 2020, we piloted a new coaching program for women in our restaurant support centers to be paired with senior leaders to work on goal setting and building paths to achieve those goals and we expect to continue these initiatives.
Our approach to rewarding talent is through a combination of compensation, recognition, wellness and benefits. We are committed to providing market-competitive pay and benefits, affirming our pay for performance philosophy while balancing retention risk. Restaurant support center and distribution employees are eligible for performance-based cash incentive programs. Each incentive
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plan reinforces and rewards individuals for achievement of specific business goals. All employees are also able to access telemedicine with no copay, as well as a 24/7 Employee Assistance Program. For corporate office and field-based employees, we offer a leading parental leave policy.
Underpinning all of these initiatives is a strong reliance on data. We leverage a people analytics team and a newly implemented human capital management system to assess our achievements in each of our four pillars to identify areas for improvement. A team of experienced People Business Partners work closely with their client groups to provide counsel on people issues and help roll out people initiatives directly to employees.
While much of the work mentioned above relates to our corporate workforce, we also have adopted employee guidelines and policies applicable to our restaurant employees and encourage our franchisees to adopt similar guidelines and policies.
Available Information
We make available free of charge on or through the Investor Relations section of our internet website at www.rbi.com, all materials that we file electronically with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”), including this annual report on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K and any amendments to those reports as soon as reasonably practicable after electronically filing or furnishing such material with the SEC and with the Canadian Securities Administrators. This information is also available at www.sec.gov, an internet site maintained by the SEC that contains reports, proxy and information statements and other information regarding issuers that file electronically with the SEC, and on the System for Electronic Document Analysis and Retrieval (“SEDAR”) at www.sedar.com, a website maintained by the Canadian Securities Administrators. The references to our website address, the SEC’s website address and the website maintained by the Canadian Securities Administrators do not constitute incorporation by reference of the information contained in these websites and should be not considered part of this document.
A copy of our Corporate Governance Guidelines, Code of Business Ethics and Conduct for Non-Restaurant Employees, Code of Ethics for Executive Officers, Code of Conduct for Directors and the Charters of the Audit Committee, Compensation Committee, Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee, Conflicts Committee and Operations and Strategy Committee of our board of directors are posted in the Investor Relations section of our website at www.rbi.com.
Our principal executive offices are located at 130 King Street West, Suite 300, Toronto, Ontario M5X 1E1, Canada. Our telephone number is (905) 339-6011.
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Item 1A. Risk Factors
Risks Related to Our Business Operations
We face intense competition in our markets, which could negatively impact our business.
The restaurant industry is intensely competitive and we compete with many well-established food service companies on the basis of product choice, quality, affordability, service and location. With few barriers to entry, our competitors include a variety of independent local operators, in addition to well-capitalized regional, national and international restaurant chains and franchises, and new competitors, such as virtual brands and dark kitchens, may emerge at any time. Furthermore, delivery aggregators and food delivery services provide consumers with convenient access to a broad range of competing restaurant chains and food retailers, particularly in urbanized areas, and may form a closer relationship with our customers and increase costs. Each of our brands also competes for qualified franchisees, suitable restaurant locations and management and personnel.
Our ability to compete will depend on the success of our plans to effectively respond to consumer preferences, improve existing products, develop and roll-out new products, and manage the complexity of restaurant operations as well as the impact of our competitors’ actions. In addition, our long-term success will depend on our ability to strengthen our customers' digital experience through mobile ordering, delivery, loyalty programs, and social interaction. Some of our competitors have substantially greater financial resources, higher revenues and greater economies of scale than we do. These advantages may allow them to implement their operational strategies more quickly or effectively than we can or benefit from changes in technologies, which could harm our competitive position. These competitive advantages may be exacerbated in a difficult economy, thereby permitting our competitors to gain market share. We may be unable to successfully respond to changing consumer preferences, including with respect to new technologies and alternative methods of delivery. In addition, online platforms and aggregators may direct potential customers to other options based on paid placements, online reviews or other factors. If we are unable to maintain our competitive position, we could experience lower demand for products, downward pressure on prices, reduced margins, an inability to take advantage of new business opportunities, a loss of market share, reduced franchisee profitability and an inability to attract qualified franchisees in the future.
Failure to preserve the value and relevance of our brands could negatively impact our financial results.
We depend in large part on the value of the TH, BK and PLK brands. To be successful in the future, we must preserve, enhance and leverage the value of our brands. Brand value is based in part on consumer tastes, preferences and perceptions on a variety of factors, including the nutritional content, methods of production and preparation of our products and our business practices, including with respect to animal welfare, sustainability and other environmental or social concerns. Consumer acceptance of our products may be influenced by or subject to change for a variety of reasons. For example, adverse publicity associated with nutritional, health and other scientific studies and conclusions, which constantly evolve and often have contradictory implications, may drive popular opinion against quick service restaurants in general, which may impact the demand for our products. Moreover, health campaigns against products we offer in favor of foods that are perceived as healthier may affect consumer perception of our product offerings and impact the value of our brands.
In addition, adverse publicity related to litigation, regulation (including initiatives intended to drive consumer behavior) or incidents involving us, our franchisees, competitors or suppliers may impact the value of our brands by discouraging customers from buying our products. Perceptions may also be affected by activist campaigns to promote adverse perceptions of the quick service restaurant industry or our brands and/or our operations, suppliers, franchisees or other partners such as campaigns aimed at sustainability or living-wage opinions. Consumer demand for our products and our brand equity could diminish if we, our employees or our franchisees or other business partners fail to preserve the quality of our products, act or are perceived to act as unethical, illegal, racially-biased or in a socially irresponsible manner, including with respect to the sourcing, content or sale of our products or the use of consumer data for general or direct marketing or other purposes, fail to comply with laws and regulations, publicly take controversial positions or actions or fail to deliver a consistently positive consumer experience in each of our markets. If we are unsuccessful in addressing consumer adverse perceptions, our brands and our financial results may suffer.
Economic conditions have and may continue to adversely affect consumer discretionary spending which could negatively impact our business and operating results.
We believe that our restaurant sales, guest traffic and profitability are strongly correlated to consumer discretionary spending, which is influenced by general economic conditions, unemployment levels, the availability of discretionary income and, ultimately, consumer confidence. For example, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in significant increases in unemployment and a reduction in discretionary spending. A protracted economic slowdown, increased unemployment and underemployment of our customer base, decreased salaries and wage rates, inflation, rising interest rates or other industry-wide cost pressures adversely affect consumer behavior by weakening consumer confidence and decreasing consumer spending for restaurant dining occasions. Governmental or other responses to economic challenges may be unable to restore or maintain consumer confidence. As a result of these factors, during
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recessionary periods we and our franchisees may experience reduced sales and profitability, which may cause our business and operating results to suffer.
Our results can be adversely affected by unforeseen events, such as adverse weather conditions, natural disasters, terrorist attacks or threats, pandemics, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, or other catastrophic events.
Unforeseen events, such as adverse weather conditions, natural disasters or catastrophic events, can adversely impact restaurant sales. Natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes, and severe adverse weather conditions and health pandemics whether occurring in Canada, the United States or abroad, can keep customers in the affected area from dining out, cause damage to or closure of restaurants and result in lost opportunities for our restaurants.
For example, measures implemented to reduce the spread of COVID-19 have adversely affected workforces, customers, consumer sentiment, economies and financial markets, and, along with decreased consumer spending, have led to an economic downturn in many of our markets. As a result of COVID-19, we and our franchisees have experienced significant store closures and instances of reduced store-level operations, including reduced operating hours and dining-room closures. While many markets have reopened for dine-in guests, the capacity may be limited, and local conditions may lead again to closures or increased limitations. As a result of COVID-19, restaurant traffic and system-wide sales have been significantly negatively impacted.
We cannot predict the duration or scope of the COVID-19 pandemic or when operations will cease to be affected by it. Furthermore, we cannot predict the effects that actual or threatened armed conflicts, terrorist attacks, efforts to combat terrorism, or heightened security requirements will have on our future operations. Because a significant portion of our restaurant operating costs are fixed or semi-fixed in nature, the loss of sales during these periods hurts our and our franchisees’ operating margins and can result in restaurant operating losses and our loss of royalties. We expect the COVID-19 pandemic to continue to negatively impact our financial results and based on the duration and scope, such impact could be material.
Our results depend on effective marketing and advertising and the successful development and launch of new products.
Our revenues are heavily influenced by brand marketing and advertising and by our ability to develop and launch new and innovative products. Our marketing and advertising programs may not be successful, or we may fail to develop commercially successful new products, which may adversely affect our ability to attract new guests and retain existing guests, and could materially and adversely affect our results of operations. Moreover, because franchisees contribute to advertising funds based on a percentage of gross sales at their franchise restaurants, advertising fund expenditures are dependent upon sales volumes at system-wide restaurants. If system-wide sales decline, the amount available for our marketing and advertising programs will be reduced. Also, to the extent that we use value offerings in our marketing and advertising programs to drive traffic, the low price offerings may condition our guests to resist higher prices in a more favorable economic environment.
In addition, we continue to focus on transforming the restaurant experience through technology and digital engagement to improve our service model and strengthen relationships with customers, digital channels, loyalty initiatives, mobile ordering and payment systems and delivery initiatives. These initiatives may not have the anticipated impact on our franchise sales and therefore we may not fully realize the intended benefits of these significant investments.
The global scope of our business subjects us to risks and costs and may cause our profitability to decline.
Our global operations expose us to risks in managing the differing cultural, regulatory, geopolitical and economic environments in the countries where our restaurants operate. These risks, which can vary substantially by market and may increase in importance as our franchisees expand operations in international markets, are described in many of the risk factors discussed in this section and include the following:
governmental laws, regulations and policies adopted to manage national economic conditions, such as increases in taxes, austerity measures that impact consumer spending, monetary policies that may impact inflation rates and currency fluctuations;
the imposition of import restrictions or controls;
the effects of legal and regulatory changes and the burdens and costs of our compliance with a variety of foreign laws;
changes in the laws and policies that govern foreign investment and trade in the countries in which we operate;
compliance with U.S., Canadian and other anti-corruption and anti-bribery laws, including compliance by our employees, contractors, licensees or agents and those of our strategic partners and joint ventures;
risks and costs associated with political and economic instability, corruption, anti-American or anti-Canadian sentiment and social and ethnic unrest in the countries in which we operate;
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the risks of operating in developing or emerging markets in which there are significant uncertainties regarding the interpretation, application and enforceability of laws and regulations and the enforceability of contract rights and intellectual property rights;
risks arising from the significant and rapid fluctuations in currency exchange markets and the decisions and positions that we take to hedge such volatility;
changing labor conditions and difficulties experienced by our franchisees in staffing their international operations;
the impact of labor costs on our franchisees’ margins given their labor-intensive business model and the long-term trend toward higher wages in both mature and developing markets and the potential impact of union organizing efforts on day-to-day operations of our franchisees’ restaurants; and
the effects of increases in the taxes we pay and other changes in applicable tax laws.
Our operations are subject to fluctuations in foreign currency exchange and interest rates.
We report our results in U.S. dollars, which is our reporting currency. The operations of TH, BK, and PLK that are denominated in currencies other than the U.S. dollar are translated to U.S. dollars for our financial reporting purposes and are therefore impacted by fluctuations in currency exchange rates and changes in currency regulations. In addition, fluctuations in interest rates may affect our business. Although we attempt to minimize these risks through geographic diversification and the utilization of derivative financial instruments, our risk management strategies may not be effective and our results of operations could be adversely affected.
Increases in food and commodity costs or shortages or interruptions in the supply or delivery of our food could harm our operating results and the results of our franchisees.
Our profitability and the profitability of our franchisees will depend in part on our ability to anticipate and react to changes in food and commodity and supply costs. With respect to our TH business, volatility in connection with certain key commodities that we purchase in the ordinary course of business can impact our revenues, costs and margins. If commodity prices rise, franchisees may experience reduced sales due to decreased consumer demand at retail prices that have been raised to offset increased commodity prices, which may reduce franchisee profitability. In addition, the markets for beef and chicken are subject to significant price fluctuations due to seasonal shifts, climate conditions, the cost of grain, disease, industry demand, international commodity markets, food safety concerns, product recalls, government regulation and other factors, all of which are beyond our control and, in many instances unpredictable. Such increases in commodity costs may materially and adversely affect our business and operating results.
We and our franchisees are dependent on frequent deliveries of fresh food products that meet our specifications. Shortages or interruptions in the supply of fresh food products caused by unanticipated demand, natural disasters or unforeseen events, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, problems in production or distribution, inclement weather, delays or restrictions on shipping and/or manufacturing, closures of supplier or distributor facilities or financial distress or insolvency of suppliers or distributors or other conditions could adversely affect the availability, quality and cost of ingredients, which would adversely affect our operating results. As of December 31, 2020, we have only a few distributors that service the most of our BK and PLK operations in the U.S., and our operations could be adversely affected if any of these distributors were unable to fulfill their responsibilities and we were unable to locate a substitute distributor in a timely manner.
Our supply chain operations subject us to additional risks and may cause our profitability to decline.
We operate a vertically integrated supply chain for our TH business in which we manufacture, warehouse, and distribute certain food and restaurant supplies to TH restaurants. Risks associated with this vertical integration growth strategy include:
delays and/or difficulties associated with, or liabilities arising from, owning a manufacturing, warehouse and distribution business;
maintenance, operations and/or management of the facilities, equipment, employees and inventories;
limitations on the flexibility of controlling capital expenditures and overhead;
the need for skills and techniques that are outside our traditional core expertise;
increased transportation, shipping, food and other supply costs;
inclement weather or extreme weather events;
shortages or interruptions in the availability or supply of high-quality coffee beans, perishable food products and/or their ingredients;
variations in the quality of food and beverage products and/or their ingredients; and
political, physical, environmental, labor, or technological disruptions in our or our suppliers’ manufacturing and/or warehousing plants, facilities, or equipment.
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If we do not adequately address the challenges related to these vertically integrated operations or the overall level of utilization or production decreases for any reason, our results of operations and financial condition may be adversely impacted. Decreased sales from the COVID-19 pandemic may continue to affect supply chain revenue and profitability. Moreover, interruptions in the availability and delivery of food, beverages and other supplies to our restaurants arising from shortages or greater than expected demand, may increase costs or reduce revenues. As of December 31, 2020, we have only one or a few suppliers to service each category of products sold at our TH restaurants, and the loss of any one of these suppliers would likely adversely affect our business.
We and our franchisees may be unable to secure desirable restaurant locations to maintain and effectively grow our restaurant portfolios.
The success of any restaurant depends in substantial part on its location. The current locations of our restaurants may not continue to be attractive as demographic patterns change. Neighborhood or economic conditions where restaurants are located could decline in the future, thus resulting in potentially reduced sales in those locations. Competition for restaurant locations can also be intense and there may be delay or cancellation of new site developments by developers and landlords, which may be exacerbated by factors related to the commercial real estate or credit markets. If franchisees cannot obtain desirable locations for their restaurants at reasonable prices due to, among other things, higher than anticipated acquisition, construction and/or development costs of new restaurants, difficulty negotiating leases with acceptable terms, onerous land use or zoning restrictions, or challenges in securing required governmental permits, then their ability to execute their respective growth strategies may be adversely affected.
The market for retail real estate is highly competitive. Based on their size advantage and/or their greater financial resources, some of our competitors may have the ability to negotiate more favorable lease terms than we can and some landlords and developers may offer priority or grant exclusivity to some of our competitors for desirable locations. As a result, we or our franchisees may not be able to obtain new leases or renew existing leases on acceptable terms, if at all, which could adversely affect our sales and brand-building initiatives.
Our ownership and leasing of significant amounts of real estate exposes us to possible liabilities, losses, and risks.
Many of our Company and franchised restaurants are located on leased premises. As leases underlying these restaurants expire, we or our franchisees may be unable to negotiate a new lease or lease extension, either on commercially acceptable terms or at all, which could cause us or our franchisees to close restaurants in desirable locations. As a result, our revenues and our brand-building initiatives could be adversely affected. In general, we cannot cancel existing leases; therefore, if an existing or future restaurant is not profitable, and we decide to close it, we may still be committed to perform under the applicable lease. In addition, the value of our owned real estate assets could decrease, and/or our costs could increase, because of changes in the investment climate for real estate, demographic trends, demand for restaurant sites and other retail properties, and exposure to or liability associated with environmental contamination and reclamation.
Typically, the costs of insurance, taxes, maintenance, utilities, and other property-related costs due under a prime lease with a third-party landlord are passed through to the franchisee under our sublease. If a franchisee fails to perform the obligations passed through under the sublease, we will be required to perform these obligations resulting in an increase in our leasing and operational costs and expenses. In addition, the rent a franchisee pays us under the sublease may be based on a percentage of gross sales. If gross sales at a certain restaurant are less than we project we may pay more rent to a third-party landlord under the prime lease than we receive from the franchisee under the sublease. These events could result in increased leasing and operational costs to us.
Food safety concerns and concerns about the health risk of fast food may have an adverse effect on our business.
Food safety is a top priority for us and we dedicate substantial resources to ensure that our customers enjoy safe, high-quality food products. However, food-borne illnesses and other food safety issues have occurred in the food industry in the past and could occur in the future. Also, our reliance on third-party food suppliers, distributors and food delivery aggregators increases the risk that food-borne illness incidents could be caused by factors outside of our control and that multiple locations would be affected rather than a single restaurant. Any report or publicity, including through social media, linking us or one of our franchisees or suppliers to instances of food-borne illness or other food safety issues, including food tampering, adulteration or contamination, could adversely affect our brands and reputation as well as our sales and profits. Such occurrence at restaurants of competitors could adversely affect sales as a result of negative publicity about the industry generally. The occurrence of food-borne illnesses or food safety issues could also adversely affect the price and availability of affected ingredients, which could result in disruptions in our supply chain, significantly increase costs and/or lower margins for us and our franchisees.
Some of our products contain caffeine, dairy products, fats, sugar and other compounds and allergens, the health effects of which are the subject of public scrutiny, including suggesting that excessive consumption of caffeine, beef, sugar and other compounds can lead to a variety of adverse health effects. An unfavorable report on the health effects of caffeine or other compounds present in our products, or negative publicity or litigation arising from other health risks such as obesity, could significantly reduce the
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demand for our beverages and food products. A decrease in customer traffic as a result of these health concerns or negative publicity could materially and adversely affect our brands and our business.
If we are unable to adequately protect our intellectual property, the value of our brands and our business may be harmed.
Our brands, which represent approximately 45% of the total assets on our balance sheet as of December 31, 2020, are very important to our success and our competitive position. We rely on a combination of trademarks, copyrights, service marks, trade secrets, patents, industrial designs, and other intellectual property rights to protect our brands and the respective branded products. While we have registered certain trademarks in Canada, the U.S. and foreign jurisdictions, not all of the trademarks that our brands currently use have been registered in all of the countries in which we do business, and they may never be registered in all of these countries. We may not be able to adequately protect our trademarks, and our use of these trademarks may result in liability for trademark infringement, trademark dilution or unfair competition. The steps we have taken to protect our intellectual property in Canada, the U.S. and in foreign countries may not be adequate and we may, from time to time, be required to institute litigation to enforce our trademarks or other intellectual property rights or to protect our trade secrets. Further, third parties may assert or prosecute infringement claims against us. In these cases, our proprietary rights could be challenged, circumvented, infringed or invalidated. Any such litigation could result in substantial costs and diversion of resources and could negatively affect our revenue, profitability and prospects regardless of whether we are able to successfully enforce our rights. In addition, the laws of some foreign countries do not protect intellectual property rights to the same extent as the laws of Canada and the U.S.
Changes in regulations may adversely affect restaurant operations and our financial results.
Our restaurants are subject to licensing and regulation by health, sanitation, safety and other agencies in the state, province and/or municipality in which the restaurant is located. Federal, state, provincial and local government authorities have enacted and may enact laws, rules or regulations that impact restaurant operations and may increase the cost of doing business. In developing markets, we face the risks associated with new and untested laws and judicial systems. If we fail to comply with existing or future laws, we may be subject to governmental fines and sanctions.
We are subject to various provincial, state and foreign laws that govern the offer and sale of a franchise, including in the U.S., to an FTC rule. Various provincial, state and foreign laws regulate certain aspects of the franchise relationship, including terminations and the refusal to renew franchises. The failure to comply with these laws and regulations in any jurisdiction or to obtain required government approvals could result in a ban or temporary suspension on future franchise sales, fines and penalties or require us to make offers of rescission or restitution, any of which could adversely affect our business and operating results. We could also face lawsuits by franchisees based upon alleged violations of these laws.
Additionally, we, our franchisees and our supply chain are subject to risks and costs arising from the effects of climate change, greenhouse gases, and diminishing energy and water resources. These risks include the increased public focus, including by governmental and nongovernmental organizations, on these and other environmental sustainability matters, such as packaging and waste, animal health and welfare, deforestation and land use. Also, we face increased pressure to make commitments, set targets or establish additional goals and take actions to meet them which could expose us to market, operational and execution costs or risks. If we are unable to effectively manage the risks associated with our complex regulatory environment, it could have a material adverse effect on our business and financial condition.
We outsource certain aspects of our business to third-party vendors which subjects us to risks, including disruptions in our business and increased costs.
We have outsourced certain administrative functions for our business, certain information technology support services and benefit plan administration to third-party service providers. In the future, we may outsource other functions to achieve cost savings and efficiencies. If the service providers to which we outsource these functions do not perform effectively, we may not be able to achieve the expected cost savings and may have to incur additional costs in connection with such failure to perform. Depending on the function involved, such failures may also lead to business disruption, transaction errors, processing inefficiencies, the loss of sales and customers, the loss of or damage to intellectual property through security breach, and the loss of sensitive data through security breach or otherwise. Any such damage or interruption could have a material adverse effect on our business, cause us to face significant fines, customer notice obligations or costly litigation, harm our reputation with our customers or prevent us from paying our collective suppliers or employees or receiving payments on a timely basis.

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Risks Related to Our Fully Franchised Business Model
Our fully franchised business model presents a number of disadvantages and risks.
Substantially all of our restaurants are owned and operated by franchisees. Under our fully franchised business model, our future prospects depend on (i) our ability to attract new franchisees for each of our brands that meet our criteria and (ii) the willingness and ability of franchisees to open restaurants in existing and new markets. We may be unable to identify franchisees who meet our criteria, or if we identify such franchisees, they may not successfully implement their expansion plans.
Our fully franchised business model presents a number of other drawbacks, such as limited influence over franchisees, limited ability to facilitate changes in restaurant ownership, limitations on enforcement of franchise obligations due to bankruptcy or insolvency proceedings and reliance on franchisees to participate in our strategic initiatives. While we can mandate certain strategic initiatives through enforcement of our franchise agreements, we will need the active support of our franchisees if the implementation of these initiatives is to be successful. The failure of these franchisees to support our marketing programs and strategic initiatives could adversely affect our ability to implement our business strategy and could materially harm our business, results of operations and financial condition. On occasion we have encountered, and may in the future encounter, challenges in receiving specific financial and operational results from our franchisees in a consistent and timely manner, which can negatively impact our business and operating results.
Our principal competitors that have a significantly higher percentage of company-operated restaurants than we do may have greater influence over their respective restaurant systems and greater ability to implement operational initiatives and business strategies, including their marketing and advertising programs.
The ability of our franchisees and prospective franchisees to obtain financing for development of new restaurants or reinvestment in existing restaurants depends in part upon financial and economic conditions which are beyond their control. If our franchisees are unable to obtain financing on acceptable terms to develop new restaurants or reinvest in existing restaurants, our business and financial results could be adversely affected.
Our franchisees are also dependent upon their ability to attract and retain qualified employees in an intensely competitive employee market. The inability of our franchisees to recruit and retain qualified individuals or increased costs to do so, including due to increases in legally required wages, may delay the planned openings of new restaurants by our franchisees and could adversely impact existing franchise restaurants and franchisee profitability, which could slow our growth. In addition, the risk or perceived risk of contracting COVID-19 could adversely affect the ability, or the cost, of staffing restaurants, which could be exacerbated to the extent that we or our franchisees have employees who test positive for the virus. Moreover, we may also face liability for employment-related claims of our franchisees’ employees based on theories of joint employer liability with our franchisees or other theories of vicarious liability, which could materially harm our results of operations and financial condition.
Our results are closely tied to the success of independent franchisees, and we have limited influence over their operations.
We generate revenues in the form of royalties, fees and other amounts from our franchisees. As a result, our operating results are closely tied to the success of our franchisees. However, our franchisees are independent operators and we cannot control many factors that impact the profitability of their restaurants. The impact of COVID-19 has, and is expected to continue to have, an adverse effect on our franchisees’ liquidity. As a result, we provided, where appropriate, cash flow support to franchisees in the U.S. and Canada by extending loans, advancing cash payments and providing rent relief where we have property control, some of which is continuing in 2021. These actions have and may continue to adversely affect our cash flow and financial results. In addition to these actions, we may decide to take additional steps to assist in the financial stabilization of our franchisees, which could impact our liquidity and our financial results. In addition, we delayed certain capital expenditure obligations of our franchisees relating to new restaurants, remodels and significant equipment deployments, which could adversely affect our growth once the COVID-19 pandemic has passed.
If sales trends or economic conditions worsen for franchisees, their financial results may deteriorate, which could result in, among other things, restaurant closures; delayed or reduced payments to us of royalties, advertising contributions, rents and, delayed or reduced payments for TH products and supplies; and an inability for such franchisees to obtain financing to fund development, restaurant remodels or equipment initiatives on acceptable terms or at all. Also, franchisees may not be willing or able to renew their franchise agreements with us due to low sales volumes, high real estate costs, or the failure to secure lease renewals. If our franchisees fail to renew their franchise agreements, our royalty revenues may decrease which in turn could materially and adversely affect our business and operating results.
Franchisees and sub-franchisees may not successfully operate restaurants in a manner consistent with our established procedures, standards and requirements or standards set by applicable law, including sanitation and pest control standards. Any operational shortcoming of a franchise or sub-franchise restaurant is likely to be attributed by guests to the entire brand and may be
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shared widely through social media, thus damaging the brand’s reputation and potentially affecting our revenues and profitability. We may not be able to identify problems and take effective action quickly enough and, as a result, our image and reputation may suffer, and our franchise revenues and results of operations could decline.
Our future growth and profitability will depend on our ability to successfully accelerate international development with strategic partners and joint ventures.
We believe that the future growth and profitability of each of our brands will depend on our ability to successfully accelerate international development with strategic partners and joint ventures in new and existing international markets. New markets may have different competitive conditions, consumer tastes and discretionary spending patterns than our existing markets. As a result, new restaurants in those markets may have lower average restaurant sales than restaurants in existing markets and may take longer than expected to reach target sales and profit levels (or may never do so). We will need to build brand awareness in those new markets we enter through advertising and promotional activity, and those activities may not promote our brands as effectively as intended, if at all.
We have adopted a master franchise development model for all of our brands, which in markets with strong growth potential may include participating in strategic joint ventures, to accelerate international growth. These new arrangements may give our joint venture and/or master franchise partners the exclusive right to develop and manage our restaurants in a specific country or countries, including, in some cases, the right to sub-franchise. A joint venture partnership involves special risks, including the following: our joint venture partners may have economic, business or legal interests or goals that are inconsistent with those of the joint venture or us, or our joint venture partners may be unable to meet their economic or other obligations and we may be required to fulfill those obligations alone. Our master franchise arrangements present similar risks and uncertainties. We cannot control the actions of our joint venture partners or master franchisees, including any nonperformance, default or bankruptcy of joint venture partners or master franchisees. While sub-franchisees are required to operate their restaurants in accordance with specified operations, safety and health standards, we are not party to the agreements with the sub-franchisees and are dependent upon our master franchisees to enforce these standards with respect to sub-franchised restaurants. As a result, the ultimate success and quality of any sub-franchised restaurant rests with the master franchisee and the sub-franchisee. In addition, the termination of an arrangement with a master franchisee or a lack of expansion by certain master franchisees has and may in the future result in the delay or discontinuation of the development of franchise restaurants, or an interruption in the operation of our brand in a particular market or markets. We may not be able to find another operator to resume development activities in such market or markets. Any such delay, discontinuation or interruption could materially and adversely affect our business and operating results.
Risks Related to our Indebtedness
Our substantial leverage and obligations to service our debt could adversely affect our business.
As of December 31, 2020, we had aggregate outstanding indebtedness of $12,631 million, including senior secured term loan facilities in an aggregate principal amount of $6,028 million, senior secured first lien notes in an aggregate principal amount of $2,775 million and senior secured second lien notes in an aggregate principal amount of $3,650 million. Subject to restrictions set forth in these instruments, we may also incur significant additional indebtedness in the future, some of which may be secured debt. This may have the effect of increasing our total leverage.
Our substantial leverage could have important potential consequences, including, but not limited to:
increasing our vulnerability to, and reducing our flexibility to respond to, changes in our business and general adverse economic and industry conditions;
requiring the dedication of a substantial portion of our cash flow from operations to our debt service, thereby reducing the availability of such cash flow to fund working capital, capital expenditures, acquisitions, joint ventures, product research, dividends, share repurchases or other corporate purposes;
increasing our vulnerability to a downgrade of our credit rating, which could adversely affect our cost of funds, liquidity and access to capital markets;
placing us at a competitive disadvantage as compared to certain of our competitors who are not as highly leveraged;
restricting us from making strategic acquisitions or causing us to make non-strategic divestitures;
exposing us to the risk of increased interest rates as borrowings under our credit facilities are subject to variable rates of interest;
the discontinuation of the London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) after June 2023 and the replacement with an alternative reference rate may adversely impact interest rates and our interest rate hedging strategy;
making it more difficult for us to repay, refinance or satisfy our obligations with respect to our debt;
limiting our ability to borrow additional funds in the future and increasing the cost of any such borrowing; and
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exposing us to risks related to fluctuations in foreign currency as we earn profits in a variety of currencies around the world and substantially all of our debt is denominated in U.S. dollars.
If we are unable to generate sufficient cash flow to pay indebtedness and other funding needs or refinance our indebtedness on favorable terms, or at all, our financial condition may be materially adversely affected.
Our indebtedness limits our ability to take certain actions and could delay or prevent a future change of control.
The terms of our indebtedness include a number of restrictive covenants that, among other things, limit our ability to incur additional indebtedness or guarantee or prepay indebtedness; pay dividends on, repurchase or make distributions in respect of capital stock; make investments or acquisitions; create liens or use assets as security in other transactions; consolidate, merge, sell or otherwise dispose of substantially all of our or our subsidiaries’ assets; make intercompany transactions; and enter into transactions with affiliates. These limitations may hinder our ability to finance future operations and capital needs and our ability to pursue business opportunities and activities that may be in our interest. In addition, our ability to comply with these covenants and restrictions may be affected by events beyond our control.
A breach of the covenants under our indebtedness could result in an event of default under the applicable agreement allowing the debt holders to accelerate repayment of such debt as well as any other debt to which a cross-acceleration or cross-default provision applies. In addition, default under our senior secured credit facilities would also permit the lenders thereunder to terminate all other commitments to extend additional credit thereunder, including under the revolver. Similarly, in the event of a change of control, pursuant to the terms of our indebtedness, we may be required to repay our credit facilities, or offer to repurchase the senior secured first lien and second lien notes as well as future indebtedness. Such current and future terms could have the effect of delaying or preventing a future change of control or may discourage a potential acquirer from proposing or completing a transaction that may otherwise have presented a premium to our shareholders.
Following the occurrence of either an event of default or change of control, we may not have sufficient resources to repurchase, repay or redeem our obligations, as applicable, and we may not be able to obtain additional financing to satisfy these obligations on terms favorable to us or at all. Also, if we were unable to repay the amounts due under our secured indebtedness, the holders of such indebtedness could proceed against the collateral that secures such indebtedness. In the event our creditors accelerate the repayment of our secured indebtedness, we and our subsidiaries may not have sufficient assets to repay that indebtedness.
Risks Related to Taxation
Unanticipated tax liabilities could adversely affect the taxes we pay and our profitability.
We are subject to income and other taxes in Canada, the United States, and numerous foreign jurisdictions. A taxation authority may disagree with certain of our views, including, for example, the allocation of profits by tax jurisdiction, and the deductibility of our interest expense, and may take the position that material income tax liabilities, interest, penalties, or other amounts are payable by us, in which case, we expect to contest such assessment. Contesting such an assessment may be lengthy and costly and if we were unsuccessful, the implications could be materially adverse to us and affect our effective income tax rate or operating income.
From time to time, we are subject to additional state and local income tax audits, international income tax audits and sales, franchise and value-added tax audits. Although we believe our tax estimates are reasonable, the final determination of tax audits and any related litigation could be materially different from our historical income tax provisions and accruals. There can be no assurance that the Canada Revenue Agency (the “CRA”), the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (the “IRS”) and/or foreign tax authorities will agree with our interpretation of the tax aspects of reorganizations, initiatives, transactions, or any related matters associated therewith that we have undertaken.
The results of a tax audit or related litigation could result in us not being in a position to take advantage of the effective income tax rates and the level of benefits that we anticipated to achieve as a result of corporate reorganizations, initiatives and transactions, and the implications could have a material adverse effect on our effective income tax rate, income tax provision, net income (loss) or cash flows in the period or periods for which that determination is made.
The Company and Partnership may be treated as U.S. corporations for U.S. federal income tax purposes, which could subject us and Partnership to substantial additional U.S. taxes.
As Canadian entities, the Company and Partnership generally would be classified as foreign entities (and, therefore, non-U.S. tax residents) under general rules of U.S. federal income taxation. Section 7874 of the Code, however, contains rules that result in a non-U.S. corporation being taxed as a U.S. corporation for U.S. federal income tax purposes, unless certain tests, applied at the time of
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the acquisition, regarding ownership of such entities (as relevant here, ownership by former Burger King shareholders) or level of business activities (as relevant here, business activities in Canada by us and our affiliates, including Partnership), were satisfied at such time. The U.S. Treasury Regulations apply these same rules to non-U.S. publicly traded partnerships, such as Partnership. These statutory and regulatory rules are relatively new, their application is complex and there is little guidance regarding their application.
If it were determined that we and/or Partnership should be taxed as U.S. corporations for U.S. federal income tax purposes, we and Partnership could be liable for substantial additional U.S. federal income tax. For Canadian tax purposes, we and Partnership are expected, regardless of any application of Section 7874 of the Code, to be treated as a Canadian resident company and partnership, respectively. Consequently, if we and/or Partnership did not satisfy either of the applicable tests, we might be liable for both Canadian and U.S. taxes, which could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.
Future changes to U.S. and non-U.S. tax laws including future regulations and other interpretive guidance of U.S. and Non-U.S. tax laws could materially affect RBI and/or Partnership, including their status as foreign entities for U.S. federal income tax purposes, and adversely affect their anticipated financial positions and results.
Changes to the rules in sections 385 and 7874 of the Code or the Treasury Regulations promulgated thereunder, or other changes in law, could adversely affect our and/or Partnership’s status as a non-U.S. entity for U.S. federal income tax purposes, our effective income tax rate or future planning based on current law, and any such changes could have prospective or retroactive application to us and/or Partnership. It is presently uncertain whether any such legislative proposals will be enacted into law and, if so, what impact such legislation would have on us. The timing and substance of any such further action is presently uncertain. Any such change of law or regulatory action which could apply retroactively or prospectively, could adversely impact our tax position as well as our financial position and results in a material manner. The precise scope and application of any such regulatory proposals will not be clear until proposed Treasury Regulations are issued, and, accordingly, until such regulations are promulgated and fully understood, we cannot be certain that there will be no such impact. In addition, we would be impacted by any changes in tax law in response to corporate tax reforms and other policy initiatives in the U.S. and elsewhere.
Moreover, the U.S. Congress, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development ("OECD") and other government agencies in jurisdictions where the Company and its affiliates do business have had an extended focus on issues related to the taxation of multinational corporations. Specific attention has been paid to “base erosion and profit shifting” ("BEPS"), where payments are made between affiliates from a jurisdiction with high tax rates to a jurisdiction with lower tax rates. As a result, the tax laws in the countries in which we do business could change on a prospective or retroactive basis, and any such change could adversely affect us.
On December 22, 2017, the U.S. government enacted comprehensive tax legislation commonly referred to as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (the “Tax Act”). The provisions of the Tax Act are complex and continue to be the subject of further regulatory and administrative guidance, which may adversely affect our effective tax rate and results of operations. Additionally, other jurisdictions have and are considering various tax reform initiatives as well as initiatives related to COVID-19 that may adversely impact us if enacted.
Risks related to Information Technology
The personal information that we collect may be vulnerable to breach, theft, or loss that could adversely affect our reputation, results of operations, and financial condition.
In the ordinary course of our business, we collect, process, transmit, and retain personal information regarding our employees and their families, our franchisees, vendors, contractors, and consumers, which can include social security numbers, social insurance numbers, banking and tax identification information, health care information, and credit card information and our franchisees collect similar information. For example, in 2019 and 2020, we expanded our development and management of our brands’ mobile apps, online ordering platforms, and in-restaurant kiosks. While our deployment of such technology facilitates our primary goals of generating both incremental sales at our franchisees’ restaurants as well as additional customer awareness and interest in our brands, such deployment also means that we are collecting and responsible for additional personal information about our customers. Canadian privacy officials are investigating the use of certain geolocation data for TH mobile app users and we have been served with several purported class action lawsuits in Canada alleging we violated mobile app users' privacy rights. While we are fully cooperating with the investigation and vigorously defending the lawsuits, negative publicity regarding these matters could adversely affect our reputation and our brands. Some of this personal information is also held and managed by our franchisees and certain of our vendors. A third-party may be able to circumvent the security and business controls we and/or our vendors use to limit access and use of personal information, which could result in a breach of employee, consumer, or franchisee privacy.
A major breach, theft, or loss of the personal information described above that is held by us or our vendors could adversely affect our reputation and restaurant operations as well as result in substantial fines, penalties, indemnification claims, and potential litigation against us which could negatively impact our results of operations and financial condition. For example, under the European
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Union's General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”), companies must meet certain requirements regarding the handling of personal data or face penalties of up to 4% of worldwide revenue. Furthermore, the collection and safeguarding of personal information has increasingly attracted enhanced scrutiny from the general public in the United States and Canada, which has resulted in additional actual and proposed legislative and regulatory rules at the federal, provincial and state levels (e.g., the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018, California's Proposition 24 of 2020, and Canada's Bill C-11). These regulations have been subject to frequent change, and there may be other jurisdictions that propose or enact new or emerging data privacy requirements in the future. As a result of such legislative and regulatory rules, we may be required to notify the owners of the personal information of any data breaches, which could harm our reputation and financial results, as well as subject us to litigation or actions by regulatory authorities. Furthermore, media or other reports of existing or perceived security vulnerabilities in our systems or those of our franchisees or vendors, or misuse of personal data, even if no breach has been attempted or has occurred, has and in the future may lead to investigations and litigation and may adversely impact our brand, reputation, and business.
Significant capital investments and other expenditures could be required to remedy a breach and prevent future problems, including costs associated with additional security technologies, personnel, experts, and credit monitoring services for those whose data has been breached. These costs, which could be material, could adversely impact our results of operations during the period in which they are incurred. The techniques and sophistication used to conduct cyber-attacks and breaches, as well as the sources and targets of these attacks, change frequently and are often not recognized until such attacks are launched or have been in place for a period of time. Accordingly, our expenditures to prevent future cyber-attacks or breaches may not be successful.
Information technology system failures or interruptions or breaches of our network security may interrupt our operations, cause reputational harm, subject us to increased operating costs and expose us to litigation.
We rely heavily on our computer systems and network infrastructure across operations including, but not limited to, point-of-sale processing at our restaurants, as well as the systems of our third-party vendors to whom we outsource certain administrative functions. Despite our implementation of security measures, all of our technology systems are vulnerable to damage, disruption or failures due to physical theft, fire, power loss, telecommunications failure, or other catastrophic events, as well as from problems with transitioning to upgraded or replacement systems, internal and external security breaches, denial of service attacks, viruses, worms, and other disruptive problems caused by hackers. If any of our technology systems were to fail and we were unable to recover in a timely way, we could experience an interruption in our operations. Furthermore, if unauthorized access to or use of our systems were to occur, data related to our proprietary information could be compromised. The occurrence of any of these incidents could have a material adverse effect on our future financial condition and results of operations. To the extent that some of our worldwide reporting systems require or rely on manual processes, it could increase the risk of a breach due to human error.
Further, the standards for systems currently used for transmission and approval of electronic payment transactions, and the technology utilized in electronic payment themselves, all of which can put electronic payment data at risk, are determined and controlled by the payment card industry, not by us. If someone is able to circumvent our data security measures or those of third parties with whom we do business, including our franchisees, he or she could destroy or steal valuable information or disrupt our operations. Any security breach could expose us to risks of data loss, litigation, liability, and could seriously disrupt our operations. Any resulting negative publicity could significantly harm our reputation and could materially and adversely affect our business and operating results.
Finally, we have expended and may need to continue to expend substantial financial and managerial resources to enhance our existing restaurant management systems, financial and management controls, information systems and personnel to accurately capture and reflect the financial and operational activities at our franchise restaurants. On occasion we have encountered, and may in the future encounter, challenges in receiving these results from our franchisees in a consistent and timely manner as a number of our systems and processes are not fully integrated worldwide. To the extent that we are not able to obtain transparency into our operations from our systems and manual estimations and effectively manage the information demands associated with significant growth, it could impair the ability of our management to react quickly to changes in the business or economic environment and our business and operating results could be negatively impacted.
Risks Related to our Common Shares
3G RBH owns approximately 31% of the combined voting power in the Company, and its interests may conflict with or differ from the interests of the other shareholders.
3G Restaurant Brands Holdings LP (“3G RBH”) currently owns approximately 31% of the combined voting power in the Company. So long as 3G RBH continues to directly or indirectly own a significant amount of the voting power, it will continue to be able to strongly influence or effectively control business decisions of the Company. 3G RBH and its principals may have interests that are different from those of the Company's other shareholders, and 3G RBH may exercise its voting and other rights in a manner that may be adverse to the interests of such shareholders. In addition, this concentration of ownership could have the effect of delaying or
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preventing a change in control or otherwise discouraging a potential acquirer from attempting to obtain control of the Company, which could cause the market price of the Company’s common shares to decline or prevent the Company’s shareholders from realizing a premium over the market price for their common shares or Partnership exchangeable units.
3G RBH is affiliated with 3G Capital Partners, Ltd. a global investment firm (“3G Capital”). 3G Capital is in the business of making investments in companies and may from time to time in the future pursue opportunities, acquire or develop controlling interests in businesses engaged in the QSR industry that complement or directly or indirectly compete with certain portions of our business. As a result, those acquisition opportunities may not be available to us.
Canadian laws may have the effect of delaying or preventing a change in control.
We are a Canadian entity. The Investment Canada Act requires that a “non-Canadian,” as defined therein, file an application for review with the Minister responsible for the Investment Canada Act and obtain approval of the Minister prior to acquiring control of a Canadian business, where prescribed financial thresholds are exceeded. This may discourage a potential acquirer from proposing or completing a transaction that may otherwise present a premium to shareholders.
General Risks
The loss of key management personnel or our inability to attract and retain new qualified personnel could hurt our business.
We are dependent on the efforts and abilities of our senior management, including the executives managing each of our brands, and our success will also depend on our ability to attract and retain additional qualified employees. Failure to attract personnel sufficiently qualified to execute our strategy, or to retain existing key personnel, could have a material adverse effect on our business.
We have been, and in the future may be, subject to litigation that could have an adverse effect on our business.
We may from time to time, in the ordinary course of business, be subject to litigation relating to matters including, but not limited to, disputes with franchisees, suppliers, employees, team members, and customers, as well as disputes over our advertising claims about our food and over our intellectual property. For example, there have been multiple purported class action lawsuits filed against us regarding the no-poaching provision our franchise agreements for BK in the U.S. and TH in Canada, regarding certain purported privacy-related concerns with respect to geo-location data and our mobile application in Canada and regarding certain disclosures to the market, including in connection with secondary offerings of our shares. Active and potential disputes with franchisees could damage our brand reputation and our relationships with our broader franchise base. Such litigation may be expensive to defend, harm our reputation and divert resources away from our operations and negatively impact our reported earnings. Also, legal proceedings against a franchisee or its affiliates by third parties, whether in the ordinary course of business or otherwise, may include claims against us by virtue of our relationship with the franchisee. We, or our business partners, may become subject to claims for infringement of intellectual property rights and we may be required to indemnify or defend our business partners from such claims. Should management’s evaluation of our current exposure to legal matters pending against us prove incorrect and such claims are successful, our exposure could exceed expectations and have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. Although some losses may be covered by insurance, if there are significant losses that are not covered, or there is a delay in receiving insurance proceeds, or the proceeds are insufficient to offset our losses fully, our financial condition or results of operations may be adversely affected.
Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments
None.







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Executive Officers of the Registrant
Set forth below is certain information about our executive officers. Ages are as of the date hereof.
NameAge  Position
José E. Cil51Chief Executive Officer
Matthew Dunnigan37Chief Financial Officer
Joshua Kobza34Chief Operating Officer
Axel Schwan47President, Tim Hortons Americas
Christopher Finazzo39President, Burger King Americas
Sami Siddiqui36President, Popeyes Americas
David Shear37President, International
Fernando Machado46Chief Marketing Officer
Jill Granat55General Counsel and Corporate Secretary
Jacqueline Friesner48Controller and Chief Accounting Officer
José E. Cil. Mr. Cil was appointed Chief Executive Officer of the Company in January 2019, and previously served as President, Burger King since December 2014. Mr. Cil served as Executive Vice President and President of Europe, the Middle East and Africa for Burger King Worldwide and its predecessor from November 2010 until December 2014. Prior to this role, Mr. Cil was Vice President and Regional General Manager for Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. in Florida from February 2010 to November 2010. From September 2008 to January 2010, Mr. Cil served as Vice President of Company Operations of Burger King Corporation and from September 2005 to September 2008, he served as Division Vice President, Mediterranean and NW Europe Divisions, EMEA of a subsidiary of Burger King Corporation.
Matthew Dunnigan. Mr. Dunnigan was appointed Chief Financial Officer of the Company in January 2018. From October 2014 until January 2018, Mr. Dunnigan held the position of Treasurer, where he took on increasing responsibilities and successfully led all of the Company's capital markets activities. Before he joined the Company, Mr. Dunnigan served as Vice President of Crescent Capital Group LP, from September 2013 through October 2014, where he evaluated investments across the credit markets. Prior to that, Mr. Dunnigan spent three years as a private equity investment professional for H.I.G. Capital.
Joshua Kobza. Mr. Kobza was appointed Chief Operating Officer of the Company in January 2019. Prior to that, Mr. Kobza served as Chief Technology Officer and Development Officer of the Company from January 2018 to January 2019, and as Chief Financial Officer of the Company from December 2014 to January 2018. From April 2013 to December 2014, Mr. Kobza served as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Burger King Worldwide. Mr. Kobza joined Burger King Worldwide in June 2012 as Director, Investor Relations, and was promoted to Senior Vice President, Global Finance in December 2012. From January 2011 until June 2012, Mr. Kobza worked at SIP Capital, a Sao Paulo based private investment firm, where he evaluated investments across a number of industries and geographies. From July 2008 until December 2010, Mr. Kobza served as an analyst in the corporate private equity area of the Blackstone Group in New York City.
Axel Schwan. Mr. Schwan was appointed President of Tim Hortons, Americas in October 2019. Mr. Schwan served as Global Chief Marketing Officer of Tim Hortons from October 2017 to October 2019 and prior to that served as the Chief Marketing Officer of Burger King from January 2014 to October 2017.
Christopher Finazzo. Mr. Finazzo was appointed President of Burger King, Americas in December 2017. Mr. Finazzo served as Head of Marketing, North America for Burger King from January 2017 to December 2017 and was Head of Development for Burger King from January 2016 to January 2017. Since joining Burger King in May 2014, he has held various roles in marketing and development. Prior to joining Burger King, Mr. Finazzo was on the strategy team at Macy’s.
Sami Siddiqui. Mr. Siddiqui was appointed President of Popeyes, Americas in September 2020. Prior to that Mr. Siddiqui served as President of Asia Pacific for RBI from February 2019 to September 2020 and as Chief Financial Officer for Burger King Corporation from October 2018 to February 2019. From September 2016 to September 2018, he was President of Tim Hortons and from April 2015 to September 2016, he was Executive Vice President, Finance for Tim Hortons. Mr. Siddiqui joined Burger King Corporation in 2013 and served various capacities within the Global Finance groups of Burger King Corporation prior to joining the Tim Hortons team.
David Shear. Mr. Shear was appointed President International of Restaurant Brands International in January 2021. Mr. Shear previously served as President EMEA beginning in September 2016. Mr. Shear joined the predecessor of the company in 2011, holding roles of increasing responsibility within the US marketing. He then held various roles in Asia Pacific, including serving as President of Burger King APAC from 2014 to 2016. Prior to joining Burger King Corporation, David worked at strategy consulting firm Charles River Associates.
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Fernando Machado. Mr. Machado was appointed Chief Marketing Officer for RBI in January 2019. Mr. Machado served as Chief Marketing Officer of Burger King beginning July 2019 and prior to that served as Head of Brand Marketing, Burger King from October 2017 through June 2019 and Senior Vice President, Global Brand Management of Burger King from March 2014 to October 2017. Prior to joining Burger King, Mr. Machado held several brand development positions at Unilever.
Jill Granat. Ms. Granat was appointed General Counsel and Corporate Secretary of the Company in December 2014. Ms. Granat served as Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of Burger King Worldwide and its predecessor since February 2011. Prior to this time, Ms. Granat was Vice President and Assistant General Counsel of Burger King Corporation from July 2009 until February 2011. Ms. Granat joined Burger King Corporation in 1998 as a member of the legal department and served in positions of increasing responsibility with Burger King Corporation.
Jacqueline Friesner. Ms. Friesner was appointed Controller and Chief Accounting Officer of the Company in December 2014. Ms. Friesner served as Vice President, Controller and Chief Accounting Officer of Burger King Worldwide and its predecessor from March 2011 until December 2014. Prior thereto, Ms. Friesner served in positions of increasing responsibility with Burger King Corporation. Before joining Burger King Corporation in October 2002, she was an audit manager at Pricewaterhouse Coopers in Miami, Florida.
Item 2. Properties
Our corporate headquarters is located in Toronto, Ontario and consists of approximately 65,000 square feet which we lease. Our U.S. headquarters is located in Miami, Florida and consists of approximately 150,000 square feet which we lease. We also lease office property in Switzerland and Singapore. Related to the TH business, we own seven distribution centers, of which two are vacant and are held for sale as of December 31, 2020, and two manufacturing plants throughout Canada. In addition to our corporate headquarters in Toronto, Ontario, we lease one office in Canada and one manufacturing plant in the U.S. In 2020, we completed two new distribution centers in Western Canada, to replace two existing distribution centers, and renovated an existing warehouse in Eastern Canada to facilitate the supply of frozen and refrigerated products in those markets.
As of December 31, 2020, our restaurant footprint was as follows:
THBKPLKTotal
Franchise Restaurants(1)
Sites owned by us and leased to franchisees761 662 33 1,456 
Sites leased by us and subleased to franchisees2,825 787 48 3,660 
Sites owned/leased directly by franchisees1,359 17,124 3,329 21,812 
Total franchise restaurant sites4,945 18,573 3,410 26,928 
Company Restaurants
Sites owned by us— 16 10 26 
Sites leased by us36 31 71 
Total company restaurant sites52 41 97 
Total system-wide restaurant sites4,949 18,625 3,451 27,025 
(1) Includes VIE restaurants.
We believe that our existing headquarters and other leased and owned facilities are adequate to meet our current requirements.
Item 3. Legal Proceedings
From time to time, we are involved in legal proceedings arising in the ordinary course of business relating to matters including, but not limited to, disputes with franchisees, suppliers, employees and customers, as well as disputes over our intellectual property.  
See Note 16, “Commitments and Contingencies,” to the accompanying consolidated financial statements included in Part II, Item 8 “Financial Statements and Supplementary Data” of our Annual Report for more information on certain legal proceedings.
Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures
Not applicable.

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Part II
Item 5. Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
Market for Our Common Shares
Our common shares trade on the New York Stock Exchange (“NYSE”) and Toronto Stock Exchange (“TSX”) under the ticker symbol “QSR”. The Class B exchangeable limited partnership units of Partnership (the “Partnership exchangeable units”) trade on the TSX under the ticker symbol “QSP”. As of February 15, 2021, there were 21,924 holders of record of our common shares.
Dividend Policy
On February 11, 2021, we announced that the board of directors had declared a cash dividend of $0.53 per common share for the first quarter of 2021. The dividend will be paid on April 6, 2021 to common shareholders of record on March 23, 2021. Partnership will also make a distribution in respect of each Partnership exchangeable unit in the amount of $0.53 per Partnership exchangeable unit, and the record date and payment date for distributions on Partnership exchangeable units are the same as the record date and payment date set forth above.
We are targeting a total of $2.12 in declared dividends per common share and distributions in respect of each Partnership exchangeable unit for 2021.
Although our board of directors declared a cash dividend on our common shares for each quarter of 2020 and for the first quarter of 2021, any future dividends on our common shares will be determined at the discretion of our board of directors and will depend upon results of operations, financial condition, contractual restrictions, including the terms of the agreements governing our debt and any future indebtedness we may incur, restrictions imposed by applicable law and other factors that our board of directors deems relevant. Although we are targeting a total of $2.12 in declared dividends per common share and Partnership exchangeable unit for 2021, there is no assurance that we will achieve our target total dividend for 2021 and satisfy our debt service and other obligations.
Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
During 2020, Partnership received exchange notices representing 10,393,861 Partnership exchangeable units, including 7,098,893 during the fourth quarter of 2020. Pursuant to the terms of the partnership agreement, Partnership satisfied the exchange notices by repurchasing 6,757,692 Partnership exchangeable units for approximately $380 million in cash and exchanging the remaining Partnership exchangeable units for the same number of our newly issued common shares. During 2019, Partnership received exchange notices representing 42,016,392 Partnership exchangeable units and satisfied the exchange notices by exchanging the Partnership exchangeable units for the same number of newly issued common shares. During 2018, Partnership received exchange notices representing 10,185,333 Partnership exchangeable units. Partnership satisfied the exchange notices by repurchasing 10,000,000 Partnership exchangeable units for approximately $561 million in cash and exchanging the remaining Partnership exchangeable units for the same number of our newly issued common shares. Pursuant to the terms of the partnership agreement, the purchase price for the Partnership exchangeable units was based on the weighted average trading price of our common shares on the NYSE for the 20 consecutive trading days ending on the last business day prior to the exchange date. Upon the exchange of Partnership exchangeable units, each such Partnership exchangeable unit was automatically deemed cancelled concurrently with such exchange.
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Stock Performance Graph
The following graph shows the Company’s cumulative shareholder returns over the period from December 31, 2015 to December 31, 2020. The graph depicts the total return to shareholders from December 31, 2015 through December 31, 2020, relative to the performance of the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and the Standard & Poor’s Restaurant Index, a peer group. The graph assumes an investment of $100 in the Company's common stock and each index on December 31, 2015 and the reinvestment of dividends paid since that date. The stock price performance shown in the graph is not necessarily indicative of future price performance.
 
qsr-20201231_g1.jpg
12/31/201512/31/201612/31/201712/31/201812/31/201912/31/2020
Restaurant Brands International (NYSE)$100 $129 $169 $149 $186 $186 
S&P 500 Index$100 $112 $136 $130 $171 $203 
S&P Restaurant Index$100 $103 $130 $143 $178 $210 

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Item 6. Selected Financial Data
Unless the context otherwise requires, all references to the “Company”, “we”, “us” or “our” refer to Restaurant Brands International Inc. and its subsidiaries, collectively.
All references to “$” or “dollars” in this report are to the currency of the United States unless otherwise indicated. All references to “Canadian dollars” or “C$” are to the currency of Canada unless otherwise indicated.
Selected Financial Data
The following tables present our selected historical consolidated financial data as of the dates and for each of the periods indicated. The selected historical financial data as of December 31, 2020 and December 31, 2019 and for 2020, 2019 and 2018 have been derived from our audited consolidated financial statements and notes thereto included in this report. The selected historical financial data as of December 31, 2018, December 31, 2017 and December 31, 2016 and for 2017 and 2016 have been derived from our audited consolidated financial statements and notes thereto, which are not included in this report.
Effective January 1, 2019, we adopted the new lease accounting standard ("New Lease Standard"). Our consolidated financial statements for 2020 and 2019 reflect the application of the New Lease Standard, while our consolidated financial statements for periods prior to 2019 were prepared under the guidance of the previously applicable lease accounting standard. Effective January 1, 2018, we adopted the new revenue recognition accounting standard ("New Revenue Recognition Standard"). Our consolidated financial statements for 2020, 2019 and 2018 reflect the application of the New Revenue Recognition Standard, while our consolidated financial statements for periods prior to 2018 were prepared under the guidance of previously applicable accounting standards.
The selected historical consolidated financial data presented below contain all normal recurring adjustments that, in the opinion of management, are necessary to present fairly our financial position and results of operations as of and for the periods presented. The selected historical consolidated financial data included below and elsewhere in this report are not necessarily indicative of future results. The information presented in this section should be read in conjunction with “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” in Part II, Item 7 and “Financial Statements and Supplementary Data” in Part II, Item 8 of this report.
2020201920182017(a)2016
 (In millions, except per share data)
Statement of Operations Data:
Revenues:
Sales$2,013 $2,362 $2,355 $2,390 $2,205 
Franchise and property revenues2,955 3,241 3,002 2,186 1,941 
Total revenues4,968 5,603 5,357 4,576 4,146 
Income from operations (b)1,422 2,007 1,917 1,735 1,667 
Net income (b)750 1,111 1,144 1,235 956 
Earnings per common share:
Basic (c)$1.61 $2.40 $2.46 $2.64 $1.48 
Diluted (c)$1.60 $2.37 $2.42 $2.54 $1.45 
Dividends per common share$2.08 $2.00 $1.80 $0.78 $0.62 
Other Financial Data:
Net cash provided by operating activities$921 $1,476 $1,165 $1,391 $1,250 
Net cash provided by (used for) investing activities(79)(30)(44)(858)27 
Net cash used for financing activities(821)(842)(1,285)(936)(591)

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 December 31,
 2020201920182017(a)2016
 (In millions)
Balance Sheet Data:
Cash and cash equivalents$1,560 $1,533 $913 $1,097 $1,476 
Total assets22,777 22,360 20,141 21,224 19,125 
Total debt and finance lease obligations12,823 12,148 12,140 12,123 8,723 
Total liabilities19,056 18,101 16,523 16,663 12,339 
Redeemable preferred shares— — — — 3,297 
Total equity3,721 4,259 3,618 4,561 3,489 

(a)On March 27, 2017, we acquired PLK. Statement of operations data and other financial data includes PLK results from the acquisition date through December 31, 2017. Balance sheet data includes PLK data as of December 31, 2017.
(b)Amount includes $16 million of Corporate restructuring and tax advisory fees for 2020. Amount includes $31 million of Corporate restructuring and tax advisory fees and $6 million of Office centralization and relocation costs for 2019. Amount includes $10 million of PLK Transaction costs, $25 million of Corporate restructuring and tax advisory fees and $20 million of Office centralization and relocation costs for 2018. Amount includes $62 million of PLK Transaction costs and $2 million of Corporate restructuring and tax advisory fees for 2017. Amount includes $16 million of integration costs for 2016 in connection with the implementation of initiatives to integrate the back-office processes of TH and BK to enhance efficiencies.
(c)The diluted earnings per share calculation assumes conversion of 100% of the Partnership exchangeable units under the “if converted” method. Accordingly, the numerator is also adjusted to include the earnings allocated to the holders of noncontrolling interests. For 2017, both basic and diluted earnings per share amount includes a $234 million gain on the redemption of the Company's redeemable preferred shares.
Operating Metrics
We evaluate our restaurants and assess our business based on the following operating metrics:
System-wide sales growth refers to the percentage change in sales at all franchise restaurants and Company restaurants (referred to as system-wide sales) in one period from the same period in the prior year.
Comparable sales refers to the percentage change in restaurant sales in one period from the same prior year period for restaurants that have been open for 13 months or longer for TH and BK and 17 months or longer for PLK. Additionally, if a restaurant is closed for a significant portion of a month, the restaurant is excluded from the monthly comparable sales calculation.
System-wide sales growth and comparable sales are measured on a constant currency basis, which means the results exclude the effect of foreign currency translation (“FX Impact”). For system-wide sales growth and comparable sales, we calculate the FX Impact by translating prior year results at current year monthly average exchange rates.
Unless otherwise stated, system-wide sales growth, system-wide sales and comparable sales are presented on a system-wide basis, which means they include franchise restaurants and Company restaurants. System-wide results are driven by our franchise restaurants, as approximately 100% of system-wide restaurants are franchised. Franchise sales represent sales at all franchise restaurants and are revenues to our franchisees. We do not record franchise sales as revenues; however, our royalty revenues are calculated based on a percentage of franchise sales.
Net restaurant growth refers to the net increase/(decrease) in restaurant count (openings, net of permanent closures) over a trailing twelve month period, divided by the restaurant count at the beginning of the trailing twelve month period.
These metrics are important indicators of the overall direction of our business, including trends in sales and the effectiveness of each brand’s marketing, operations and growth initiatives.

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The following table presents our operating metrics for each of the periods indicated, which have been derived from our internal records. We evaluate our restaurants and assess our business based on these operating metrics. These metrics may differ from those used by other companies in our industry who may define these metrics differently.
202020192018
System-wide sales growth
Tim Hortons(17.5)%(0.3)%2.4 %
Burger King(11.1)%9.3 %8.9 %
Popeyes17.7 %18.5 %8.9 %
Consolidated(8.6)%8.3 %7.4 %
System-wide sales ($ in millions)
Tim Hortons$5,488 $6,716 $6,869 
Burger King$20,038 $22,921 $21,624 
Popeyes$5,143 $4,397 $3,732 
Consolidated$30,669 $34,034 $32,225 
Comparable sales
Tim Hortons(15.7)%(1.5)%0.6 %
Burger King(7.9)%3.4 %2.0 %
Popeyes13.8 %12.1 %1.6 %
Net restaurant growth
Tim Hortons0.3 %1.8 %2.1 %
Burger King(1.1)%5.9 %6.1 %
Popeyes4.1 %6.9 %7.3 %
Consolidated(0.2)%5.2 %5.5 %
System Restaurant count
Tim Hortons4,949 4,932 4,846 
Burger King18,625 18,838 17,796 
Popeyes3,451 3,316 3,102 
Consolidated27,025 27,086 25,744 


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Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations
You should read the following discussion together with Part II, Item 6 “Selected Financial Data” of this Annual Report for the year ended December 31, 2020 (our “Annual Report”) and our audited Consolidated Financial Statements and the related notes thereto included in Part II, Item 8 “Financial Statements and Supplementary Data” of our Annual Report.
The following discussion includes information regarding future financial performance and plans, targets, aspirations, expectations, and objectives of management, which constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and forward-looking information within the meaning of the Canadian securities laws as described in further detail under “Special Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements” that is set forth below. Actual results may differ materially from the results discussed in the forward-looking statements because of a number of risks and uncertainties, including the matters discussed in the “Special Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements” below. In addition, please refer to the risks set forth under the caption “Risk Factors” included in this Annual Report for a further description of risks and uncertainties affecting our business and financial results. Historical trends should not be taken as indicative of future operations and financial results. Other than as required under the U.S. Federal securities laws or the Canadian securities laws, we do not assume a duty to update these forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, subsequent events or circumstances, changes in expectations or otherwise.
We prepare our financial statements in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States (“U.S. GAAP” or “GAAP”). However, this Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations also contains certain non-GAAP financial measures to assist readers in understanding our performance. Non-GAAP financial measures either exclude or include amounts that are not reflected in the most directly comparable measure calculated and presented in accordance with GAAP. Where non-GAAP financial measures are used, we have provided the most directly comparable measures calculated and presented in accordance with U.S. GAAP, a reconciliation to GAAP measures and a discussion of the reasons why management believes this information is useful to it and may be useful to investors.
Unless the context otherwise requires, all references in this section to the “Company,” “we,” “us,” or “our” are to Restaurant Brands International Inc. and its subsidiaries, collectively.
Overview
We are a Canadian corporation that serves as the indirect holding company for Tim Hortons, Burger King and Popeyes and their consolidated subsidiaries. We are one of the world’s largest quick service restaurant (“QSR”) companies with approximately $31 billion in system-wide sales and approximately 27,000 restaurants in more than 100 countries as of December 31, 2020. Our Tim Hortons®, Burger King®, and Popeyes® brands have similar franchise business models with complementary daypart mixes and product platforms. Our three iconic brands are managed independently while benefiting from global scale and sharing of best practices.
Tim Hortons restaurants are quick service restaurants with a menu that includes premium blend coffee, tea, espresso-based hot and cold specialty drinks, fresh baked goods, including donuts, Timbits®, bagels, muffins, cookies and pastries, grilled paninis, classic sandwiches, wraps, soups and more. Burger King restaurants are quick service restaurants that feature flame-grilled hamburgers, chicken and other specialty sandwiches, french fries, soft drinks and other affordably-priced food items. Popeyes restaurants are quick service restaurants featuring a unique “Louisiana” style menu that includes fried chicken, chicken tenders, fried shrimp and other seafood, red beans and rice, and other regional items.
We have three operating and reportable segments: (1) Tim Hortons (“TH”); (2) Burger King (“BK”); and (3) Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen (“PLK”). Our business generates revenue from the following sources: (i) franchise revenues, consisting primarily of royalties based on a percentage of sales reported by franchise restaurants and franchise fees paid by franchisees; (ii) property revenues from properties we lease or sublease to franchisees; and (iii) sales at restaurants owned by us (“Company restaurants”). In addition, our Tim Hortons business generates revenue from sales to franchisees related to our supply chain operations, including manufacturing, procurement, warehousing and distribution, as well as sales to retailers.
COVID-19
The global crisis resulting from the spread of coronavirus (“COVID-19”) had a substantial impact on our global restaurant operations in 2020. System-wide sales growth, system-wide sales, comparable sales and net restaurant growth were also negatively impacted for 2020 as a result of the impact of COVID-19. During 2020, substantially all TH, BK and PLK restaurants remained open in North America with limited operations, such as drive-thru, takeout and delivery (where applicable) and that currently remains the case. While certain markets have opened for dine-in guests, the capacity may be limited, and local conditions may lead to closures or increased limitations. Some international markets temporarily closed most
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or all restaurants and the restaurants that remained open or have reopened may have limited operations. As of the end of December 2020, over 96% of our restaurants were open worldwide, including substantially all of our restaurants in North America and Asia Pacific and approximately 94% of our restaurants were open in Europe, Middle East and Africa.
Our operating results substantially depend upon our franchisees’ sales volumes, restaurant profitability, and financial stability. The financial impact of COVID-19 has had, and is expected to continue to have, an adverse effect on many of our franchisees’ liquidity and we have worked closely with our franchisees around the world to monitor and assist them with access to appropriate sources of liquidity in order to sustain their businesses throughout this crisis. During 2020, we offered rent relief programs to eligible TH franchisees in Canada and eligible BK franchisees in the U.S. and Canada who lease property from us. The rent relief program offered to eligible BK franchisees concluded during the third quarter of 2020 and the rent relief program offered to eligible TH franchisees was extended through the end of 2021. While in effect, these programs provided working capital support to franchisees and resulted in a reduction in our property revenues. See Note 9, Leases, to the accompanying audited consolidated financial statements.
We also provided cash flow support by extending loans to eligible BK franchisees in the U.S. during the second and third quarters of 2020, and by advancing certain cash payments to eligible TH franchisees in Canada during the second quarter of 2020. Additionally, we temporarily deferred franchisee capital investment commitments for restaurant renovations and new restaurant development globally, based on the individual circumstances of relevant markets and restaurant owners.
During 2020, we recorded higher bad debt expense than 2019 and 2018. While these receivables remain contractually due and payable to us, the certainty of the amount and timing of payments has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, our bad debt expense during 2020 reflects an adjustment to our historical collections experience to incorporate an estimate of the impact of current economic conditions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Actual collections may be materially higher or lower than this estimate reflects since it is reasonably possible the duration and future impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our business or our franchisees may differ from our assumptions.
With the pandemic affecting consumer behavior, the importance of digital sales, including delivery, has grown. We expect to continue to support enhancements of our digital and marketing capabilities. While we do not know the full future impact COVID-19 will have on our business, we expect to see a continued impact from COVID-19 on our results in 2021.
Recent Events and Factors Affecting Comparability
Transition to New Lease Accounting Standard

We transitioned to Accounting Standards Codification Topic 842, Leases (“ASC 842”), effective January 1, 2019 on a modified retrospective basis using the effective date transition method. Our consolidated financial statements reflect the application of ASC 842 guidance beginning in 2019, while our consolidated financial statements for prior periods were prepared under the guidance of a previously applicable accounting standard.

The most significant effect of this transition that affects comparability of our results of operations between 2019 and 2018 includes the recognition of lease income and lease cost on a gross basis for lessee reimbursements of costs such as property taxes and maintenance when we are the lessor in the lease. Although there was no net impact to our consolidated statement of operations from this change, the presentation resulted in total increases to both franchise and property revenues and franchise and property expenses of $130 million ($85 million related to our TH segment, $43 million related to our BK segment and $2 million related to our PLK segment) during 2019 compared to 2018, when such amounts were recorded on a net basis.
Corporate Restructuring and Tax Advisory Costs
We recorded $16 million, $31 million and $25 million of costs during 2020, 2019 and 2018, respectively, which are classified as selling, general and administrative expenses in our consolidated statements of operations, arising primarily from professional advisory and consulting services associated with certain transformational corporate restructuring initiatives that rationalize our structure and optimize cash movement within our structure, including consulting services related to the interpretation of final and proposed regulations and guidance issued by the U.S. Treasury, the IRS and state tax authorities in their ongoing efforts to interpret and implement comprehensive tax legislation, commonly referred to as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (the “Tax Act”) and related state and local tax implications (“Corporate restructuring and tax advisory fees”).
Popeyes Acquisition and PLK Transaction Costs
On March 27, 2017, we completed the acquisition of Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Inc. (the "Popeyes Acquisition"). In connection with the Popeyes Acquisition, we incurred certain non-recurring fees and expenses (“PLK Transaction costs”)
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totaling $10 million during 2018 consisting primarily of professional fees and compensation related expenses, all of which are classified as selling, general and administrative expenses in the consolidated statements of operations. We did not incur any PLK Transaction costs during 2020 and 2019.
Office Centralization and Relocation Costs
In connection with the centralization and relocation of our Canadian and U.S. restaurant support centers to new offices in Toronto, Ontario, and Miami, Florida, respectively, we incurred certain non-operational expenses (“Office centralization and relocation costs”) totaling $6 million during 2019 and $20 million during 2018 consisting primarily of moving costs, relocation-driven compensation expenses, and duplicate rent expenses during 2018, which are classified as selling, general and administrative expenses in the consolidated statement of operations. We did not incur any Office centralization and relocation costs during 2020.

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Results of Operations
Tabular amounts in millions of U.S. dollars unless noted otherwise. Segment income may not calculate exactly due to rounding.
    2020 vs. 20192019 vs. 2018
Consolidated202020192018VarianceFX
Impact (a)
Variance
Excluding
FX Impact
VarianceFX
Impact
Variance
Excluding
FX Impact
    Favorable / (Unfavorable)
Revenues:
Sales$2,013 $2,362 $2,355 $(349)$(20)$(329)$$(44)$51 
Franchise and property revenues2,955 3,241 3,002 (286)(29)(257)239 (52)291 
Total revenues4,968 5,603 5,357 (635)(49)(586)246 (96)342 
Operating costs and expenses:
Cost of sales1,610 1,813 1,818 203 15 188 34 (29)
Franchise and property expenses528 540 422 12 (118)(125)
Selling, general and administrative expenses1,264 1,264 1,214 — (3)(50)10 (60)
(Income) loss from equity method investments39 (11)(22)(50)— (50)(11)(3)(8)
Other operating expenses (income), net105 (10)(115)(1)(114)18 (3)21 
Total operating costs and expenses3,546 3,596 3,440 50 20 30 (156)45 (201)
Income from operations1,422 2,007 1,917 (585)(29)(556)90 (51)141 
Interest expense, net508 532 535 24 — 24 — 
Loss on early extinguishment of debt98 23 — (75)— (75)(23)— (23)
Income before income taxes816 1,452 1,382 (636)(29)(607)70 (51)121 
Income tax expense66 341 238 275 (3)278 (103)12 (115)
Net income$750 $1,111 $1,144 $(361)$(32)$(329)$(33)$(39)$
(a)We calculate the FX Impact by translating prior year results at current year monthly average exchange rates. We analyze these results on a constant currency basis as this helps identify underlying business trends, without distortion from the effects of currency movements.
    2020 vs. 20192019 vs. 2018
TH Segment202020192018VarianceFX
Impact (a)
Variance
Excluding
FX Impact
VarianceFX
Impact
Variance
Excluding
FX Impact
    Favorable / (Unfavorable)
Revenues:
Sales$1,876 $2,204 $2,201 $(328)$(20)$(308)$$(44)$47 
Franchise and property revenues934 1,140 1,091 (206)(10)(196)49 (22)71 
Total revenues2,810 3,344 3,292 (534)(30)(504)52 (66)118 
Cost of sales1,484 1,677 1,688 193 15 178 11 34 (23)
Franchise and property expenses341 358 279 17 14 (79)(85)
Segment SG&A284 309 314 25 22 (1)
Segment depreciation and amortization (b)113 106 102 (7)(8)(4)(6)
Segment income (c)823 1,122 1,127 (299)(10)(289)(5)(22)17 
(b)Segment depreciation and amortization consists of depreciation and amortization included in cost of sales and franchise and property expenses.
(c)TH segment income includes $9 million, $16 million and $15 million of cash distributions received from equity method investments for 2020, 2019 and 2018, respectively.
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    2020 vs. 20192019 vs. 2018
BK Segment202020192018VarianceFX
Impact (a)
Variance
Excluding
FX Impact
VarianceFX
Impact
Variance
Excluding
FX Impact
    Favorable / (Unfavorable)
Revenues:
Sales$64 $76 $75 $(12)$— $(12)$$— $
Franchise and property revenues1,538 1,701 1,576 (163)(18)(145)125 (30)155 
Total revenues1,602 1,777 1,651 (175)(18)(157)126 (30)156 
Cost of sales65 71 67 — (4)— (4)
Franchise and property expenses176 168 131 (8)— (8)(37)(38)
Segment SG&A588 600 577 12 11 (23)(26)
Segment depreciation and amortization (b)49 49 48 — — — (1)— (1)
Segment income (d)823 994 928 (171)(17)(154)66 (26)92 
(d)BK segment income includes $6 million and $5 million of cash distributions received from equity method investments for 2019 and 2018, respectively. No significant cash distributions were received from equity method investments in 2020.
2020 vs. 20192019 vs. 2018
PLK Segment202020192018VarianceFX
Impact (a)
Variance
Excluding
FX Impact
VarianceFX
Impact
Variance
Excluding
FX Impact
 Favorable / (Unfavorable)
Revenues:
Sales$73 $82 $79 $(9)$