Michael Cherkasky, the chief executive of Marsh & McLennan Companies (MMC), the parent of global broker Marsh, has been axed in the wake of the group’s poor financial performance in 2007.

The board of directors said that a change in leadership would “best enable MMC to move forward and enhance shareholder value”.

Stephen Hardis, non-executive chairman of MMC, said: “MMC’s financial performance in 2007 has fallen far short of our expectations. The board has taken this performance into account, and listened to concerns raised by some of the company’s largest share-holders in recent quarters, in making this change.”

Marsh in particular has struggled in recent months, missing earnings estimates in two successive quarters.

It recently hired former AIG Europe managing director Dan Glaser as chief executive of Marsh to replace Brian Storms, who stepped down last September.

Hardis said: “The board will continue to actively oversee MMC’s portfolio of businesses and evaluate strategies to enhance shareholder value, including optimising the company’s capital structure, reviewing its mix of businesses and improving operating performance, particularly at Marsh.

“The MMC board believes that the full recovery of Marsh is essential to maximising shareholder value in the most prudent and sustainable manner.”

Cherkasky has held the role since 2004.