Sioux Falls, S.D.-based Sanford Health has made its first international hospital investment by acquiring a minority stake in a medical center in Germany.

The hospital called ISAR Klinikum is in Munich, and has been a partner for a few years with Sanford as a center for regenerative medicine and stem cell treatments.

Dan Blue, the executive vice president of Sanford World Clinics, did not say exactly how much Sanford is investing, but suggested the sum is in the "millions" of dollars. With clinics or programs in Canada, China and Ghana, the global health care business at Sanford is poised for more growth in the coming year, Blue said.

"This is another significant step in our goal to advance health care around the world," said Kelby Krabbenhoft, the chief executive at Sanford Health, in a statement.

Sanford Health is one of the largest health care systems in the Upper Midwest, with 44 hospitals and nearly 300 clinics in nine states. For the fiscal year ending June 30, Sanford posted operating income of $151 million on $4.4 billion in revenue.

Since 2015, Sanford said it has arranged for U.S. patients to travel to the hospital to gain access to stem-cell therapies allowed in Germany. Physicians at the health system have made the journey as well, building a partnership that Sanford said now includes a study of an emerging treatment in the U.S.

As part of the deal announced Tuesday, Krabbenhoft will serve as a board member of ISAR Klinik II AG, a private company that includes the hospital. The physician who founded ISAR Klinikum collaborates with Sanford Health on a research initiative that's seeking a cure for Type 1 diabetes.

While the two groups already are partners in developing regenerative medicine treatments, the investment represents an important expansion of the relationship, said Blue, the Sanford Health executive.

"For the future and where things are going strategically in this whole area with regard to stem cells, it's really important that we have a significant voice at the table in helping to direct and assist with the progress," he said.

A sign for Sanford Health will go up on the exterior of the hospital building in Munich, but below the hospital's current signage. Blue noted that Sanford Health is becoming a minority owner in the facility.

Twitter: @chrissnowbeck