The French subsidiary of European Capital has invested $25m (€15.9m) into the Canadian-based company currently owned by AXA private equity and the company's management. Groupe Unipex was formerly Atrium Innovations' active ingredients and specialty chemicals division, which the company sold off to AXA earlier this year. Business aims to double in five years At the time of the spin off Groupe Unipex said it planned to significantly expand the business and the investment from European Capital will help it to achieve this aim. "Management plans to double the size of the company in the next five years, mainly in Europe and in North America, through dynamic organic growth and a focused acquisition strategy," said managing director AXA private equity Eric Neuplanche. "We rely on European Capital's demonstrated experience to support the ambitious development plan of Group Unipex" he added. According to European Capital the active ingredients business offers good growth potential even in an uncertain market and operates in two fast growing segments of the industry - skin care and anti-ageing. "Groupe Unipex is clearly positioned towards value-added speciality ingredients as opposed to commodities. Since end-products have mid- to long- term lifecycles and because customers do not tend to substitute key ingredients, revenues are recurring in nature," said manager of European Capital Financial Services Alexandre Bruyelle. Industry wide price hikes Currently, much of the industry is suffering from increased energy and raw material costs and some of the biggest ingredients suppliers such as Dow Chemical and BASF have had to significantly increase their prices in order to cope with the strain. Earlier this week Dow Chemical announced a further round of price rises only weeks after it announced increases of 20 per cent. In the latest set of increases, as much as 25 percent will be added to its prices affecting a broad swathe of industries including food, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. In addition to the price increases, which will be implemented in July, Dow will implement transport surcharges for North American customers where the company currently absorbs the freight costs. From August 1, a freight surcharge of $300 per truck shipment and $600 per rail shipment will be put in place. Dow said transport charges will be implemented in other geographical regions later in the year. Under the weight of higher oil prices and the slowdown in the US and Europe, some manufacturing plants will go idle or reduce production. Dow chairman and CEO Andrew N. Liveris described the moves as "extremely unwelcome but entirely unavoidable" in the current energy climate.