Shares of Gambro AB, the number two operator of dialysis machines, were suspended after they rose nearly 3.6 percent on speculation that its U.S. rival DaVita Inc. may buy the dialysis unit of the Swedish company.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the companies are close to a nearly $3 billion deal. The deal would make El Segundo-based DaVita a major rival to industry leader Fresenius, which had about $4.7 billion in dialysis sales in 2003. Gambro's dialysis unit generated nearly $2 billion in 2003 and serves 55,100 patients in more than 700 clinics worldwide. DaVita, which mainly operates in the U.S. and had sales of about $2 billion last year, could announce a takeover this week.

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