NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- "Every private equity firm should be banging down our door."
That was Bill Ackman's pitch in October 2011, when speaking about Pershing Square Capital Management's roughly $500 million investment in a London-listed special purpose acquisition corporation (SPAC) that was in search of its first-ever deal. Less than three years later, Pershing Square is on the verge of winding up with an about 10% stake in the combined Burger King (BKW) and Tim Hortons (THI) , a company that some are characterizing as the next "global powerhouse in the quick service restaurant sector" and a possible competitor to McDonalds (MCD) and Starbucks (SBUX) .
Ackman himself appears poised to own roughly 1% of the combined company. The hedge funder's apparent coup in Burger King's takeover of Tim Hortons underscores his willingness to use creative financial structures to make bold investments, and it may also shed light on the winners and losers in the proposed merger of America's second-leading burger chain with Canada's most iconic restaurant brand.
Burger King shareholders may be the biggest winners in Tuesday's deal, while others such as Berkshire Hathaway's (BRK.A) Warren Buffett also appear poised for a nice payout. Nonetheless, Tim Hortons shareholders may come up on the short over the long-term, even though they would sell their shares to Burger King at a near 40% premium.