Morgan Stanley's head of mainland property investment, Garth Peterson, resigned last week amid a prolonged correction in the real estate market. 'Mr Peterson is no longer with the firm,' said a spokesman at Morgan Stanley without further explanation. Based in Shanghai, Mr Peterson, who speaks fluent Putonghua, was promoted to managing director of Morgan Stanley Real Estate in 2007. He was responsible for pursuing property investment opportunities and acquisitions on the mainland. While some insiders said his departure came after he turned down a transfer offer at Morgan Stanley that required him to relocate to Singapore, other sources suggest his leaving might be related to several major transactions he had concluded at above market prices. In one of the deals, Morgan Stanley Real Estate Fund agreed to buy a 30 per cent stake in a proposed resort town development on Hainan Island for 5.3 billion yuan (HK$6.01 billion) from Agile Property Holdings. 'It's an outrageous price for a piece of raw land. The valuation of the plot has probably come down a lot since, in light of the ailing property market,' said the source. The proposed Hainan Qingshuiwan project, with a gross floor area of more than 9.86 million square metres of houses, apartments, hotels and leisure facilities, is in Lingshui county, adjacent to Sanya city. In an announcement filed with the stock market in July last year, Agile estimated it would book a 4.2 billion yuan profit from the deal. Mr Peterson, according to sources, also teamed up with USI Holdings to buy Lanson Place Jin Lin Tian Di in Xintiandi, Shanghai. The luxury serviced-apartment project has been open for bids from interested parties since June last year. The fund offered the apartment project at an asking price of 1.1 billion yuan or 66,000 yuan per square metre. Sources said the serviced apartments remained on the market.