German based business network Xing has formed a partnership with  ZoomInfo, a US-based business information search engine, in a deal which could potentially give it a larger network than LinkedIn.

It also marks a move into the English speaking world for Xing, and gives its members access to profiles of nearly 36m business people and 3.8m companies.

Xing has been growing rapidly over the past year, expanding its membership by 149% in 2006 and recently reaching 2m users.

It is particularly strong in the German speaking world, but has recently expanded into Spain with the purchase of eConozco.

Xing will hope to convert some of ZoomInfo’s 4.5m monthly visitors into members of its network, and the move will potentially give the network a bigger reach than  LinkedIn, which has 11m members.

According to Xing CEO Lars Hinrichs:

“This partnership makes XING the business networking platform with access to the largest number of profiles of business professionals and companies in the world. Nearly 36m people are now available to XING members.”

According to VentureBeat, LinkedIn CEO Reid Hoffman has criticised ZoomInfo for scraping contact information without permission, and Xing will have to deal with the resulting privacy issues.

ZoomInfo COO Bryan Burdick defended his company, saying it only uses information publicly available on the web and organises it for searchers.