Groupe Bel, the France-based cheese maker, has seen annual profits almost halve thanks to financial charges linked to its acquisition of the Boursin brand.

Bel, which owns brands including The Laughing Cow and Leerdammer, posted net profit of EUR49.2m (US$66.5m) for 2008 - down from EUR95.2m a year earlier.

Falling prices for industrial products like excess whey, a "dramatic increase" in raw material prices and currency fluctuation also hit earnings.

Turnover, however, was up 12.8% to EUR2.22bn as Bel succeeded in pushing through some price increases on its cheese brands.