The executive board of Dutch specialty and convenience foods distributor Koninklijke Wessanen has announced that the sale of its European dairy activity, Leerdammer, to French dairy company Fromageries Bel has been completed.

The selling price was finalised at €190m (US$189m), which will result in a book profit of around €100m.

The divestment of Leerdammer Company completes the sale of all of Wessanen's dairy activities as part of the wellness strategy to focus on its core natural, health and specialty foods operations. The proceeds will be used to further strengthen the balance sheet providing Wessanen with leverage to continue its expansion in this high growth market in Europe and North America.

Leerdammer focuses exclusively on the production and sale of cheese products for the European market under the Leerdammer brand name. Leerdammer is the largest brand of hard cheese in Europe, with brands including La Vache qui rit, Kiri, Port Salut and Mini Babybel. Annual sales amounted to €292m in 2001.

The Leerdamer unit was put on the market last year but taken off again after the foot and mouth outbreak in Europe made it difficult to find a buyer.