Cheese maker Le Groupe Bel looks set to buy Unilever's Boursin brand in a deal worth EUR400m (US$579m).

Bel, owner of brands including The Laughing Cow and Mini Babybel, and consumer goods giant Unilever announced the deal this afternoon (5 November).

Boursin generates around EUR100m in annual sales, half of which are made in France. Keesvan der Graaf, president of Unilever Europe, said Boursin had been "a great brand" but that the company wanted to exit the cheese category.

The sale of Boursin, which Unilever first signalled in September, comes as the Anglo-Dutch group looks to streamline its business, a strategy that will see the company sell off businesses worth EUR2bn.

Der Graaf said: "I am confident we have found a new owner that will offer further growth and brand development opportunities for Boursin as part of their dedicated and focused cheese business."

The acquisition of Boursin is the latest move from Bel, which in recent months has bought Ukrainian cheese marker Shostka and set up a venture in Iran.

CEO Gérard Boivin said: "The acquisition of Boursin was a growth opportunity that our company could not pass up."

Some 150 employees, most of whom work in a site the French town of Pacy, will transfer to Bel.