Fresenius Medical Care, the world's leading supplier of dialysis products and services, said Wednesday it was strengthening its foothold on the key US market by buying rival Renal Care Group for $3.5 billion (2.7 billion euros). FMC said in a statement it was offering to buy Renal Care for $48 per share, a premium of 22 percent over the closing price of the US company's shares on Tuesday. The German giant would finance the deal by extending its existing credit lines from $1.2 billion to $5 billion dollars. The deal would have a negative impact of $50 million on the 2005 accounts but would have a "clearly positive" effect on earnings from 2007. "This acquisition solidifies our position as the leader in dialysis services in the US," said FMC chairman Ben Lipps. Renal Care Group provides an excellent strategic and geographic fit. We are convinced that this acquisition will enhance our growth prospects and profitability."