Lafarge and Standard Chartered help European shares gain
* FTSEurofirst 300 index ends 0.4 percent higher
* Stronger Standard Chartered, Lafarge help market
* Greek banks, auto stocks among top decliners
* Markets await Fed's policy statement
By Atul Prakash
LONDON, March 18 (Reuters) - European shares rose on Wednesday, with Standard Chartered surging on broker upgrades and Lafarge leading the construction and materials sector higher on expectations that a merger deal with Holcim could be saved.
Lafarge rose 5.5 percent after sources said the cement maker was seeking to save its merger with Switzerland's Holcim and the two were discussing on a new CEO for the combined group that would see Lafarge boss Bruno Lafont in a different role. Holcim rose 2.7 percent.
Lafont was presented as the future CEO, but the Swiss side has grown dissatisfied with his leadership and threatened to walk away if the issue is not resolved, the people said.
"The two major hurdles in any deal like this are the price and the composition of the board. If they could agree on the chief executive for the combined group, then that would be a major step in the right direction," Philippe Gijsels, head of research at BNP Paribas Fortis Global Markets in Brussels, said. Continuación...