FRANKFURT, Feb 20 (Reuters) - Germany's Bertelsmann has agreed to take a controlling stake in United States-based Alliant International University as the first step in a plan to build a global network of universities to share research and data.
Europe's largest media group has made education its top investment priority. It has vowed to achieve 1 billion euros ($1.13 billion) in revenue from a global market that advisory firm GSV has estimated will be worth $5.5 trillion this year and $6.4 trillion by 2017.
The purchase will give Bertelsmann access to the university's data and research, the company said on Friday, adding that it expects to seal similar deals in the future.
"Over the next few years, we will build a network of universities that deliver innovative education programmes in various fields of the health and human sciences," Bertelsmann's Chief Executive Thomas Rabe said.
He did not disclose the size of the investment, but a source familiar with the transaction said it was in the mid-double-digit range.
Last year Bertelsmann, which controls broadcaster RTL and co-owns book publisher Penguin Random House, bought e-learning business Relias Learning for $540 million.
In the education market, the German media conglomerate faces competition from global players such as Pearson, McGraw Hill and Thomson Reuters. ($1 = 0.8828 euros) (Reporting by Harro ten Wolde and Joern Poltz; Editing by David Goodman and Liisa Tuhkanen)