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UPDATE 1-Brazil's Kroton lays out aggressive growth strategy

(Adds details throughout on Kroton's expansion plans)

SAO PAULO, Dec 11 (Reuters) - Kroton Educacional SA expects to open 180 undergraduate programs next year, 150 of them through partnerships, as Brazil's biggest for-profit education company ramps up growth plans after regulators blocked a major takeover.

Speaking to analysts and investors on Monday, Chairman Rodrigo Calvo Galindo and executives said the company also aims to increase its participation in Brazil's professional studies market to between 5 percent and 10 percent in five years, up from 2 percent currently.

Kroton, which runs private schools from pre-school through to post-graduate level, has also hired consultants to study a possible expansion abroad via acquisitions, they said, without elaborating.

It was eyeing new domestic targets, too, though the company has significant room for organic growth in Brazil, the executives added.

The company failed in its bid to acquire rival Estacio Participacoes SA earlier this year. In June, Brazilian competition authorities rejected the 5.5 billion-real ($1.66 billion) tie-up of the two college operators.

"We have a robust organic growth program ... the opportunity is still gigantic in our core business," said Galindo, referring to Kroton's undergraduate offerings.

Kroton said it saw potential to expand its proprietary university operations to 234 sites in 2028, from 122 sites currently, and its partnership network to 2,776 sites in 2028, from 988 currently. Executives said such an expansion would cost around 640 million reais.

($1 = 3.30 reais) (Reporting by Gabriela Mello; Writing by Gram Slattery; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Rosalba O'Brien)