French cheese group Bel is setting up a joint venture in Iran with local firm, Sahar Dairy.

Bel, which is behind brands such as Laughing Cow and Babybel, will control 70% of the venture, in which all of Sahar Dairy's cheese-making activities will be placed.

Sahar's cheese business includes Iran's second-largest cheese brand, Rouzaneh, and also a production plant, which specializes in spreadable white cheese, a favourite in the Middle East.

In 2005, Bel inaugurated a production plant in Damascus and earlier this year opened plants in Algeria and Egypt.

In April, Bel struck a deal to buy Ukrainian cheese producer Shostka.