Chinese online real estate company SouFun Holdings Limited announced it is buying a building in New York City, ostensibly for training its staff.

SouFun announced that it has entered into an agreement to acquire the former training center of American International Group Inc. The total space is reportedly around 23,225 square meters. SouFun will pay about USD46 million and the acquisition is expected to complete in the first half of 2011, subject to certain conditions.

SouFun plans to use the former AIG training center as its own global training center to train its expanding management, staff and clients, in conjunction with selected universities and colleges in the United States.

SouFun's executive chairman, Vincent Mo, spun the purchase in a press release: "We believe that providing training to our management staff and our clients will bring us long term return. Located at the center of the world economy, the Manhattan training facilities we are acquiring, together with future available high quality lecturers, will provide an attractive and unique value proposition to our management staff and clients. It will become an important part of SouFun's internal training program called SouFun Management School which has trained most of SouFun's managers and executives and has played a critical role in the past. Training our management staff and clients will continue to be one of SouFun's main operational focuses into the future."

The Internet company plans to have a conference call later this evening to explain to investors why it needs to impress its staff with trips to New York for training, rather than training them in Asia.

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