HSBC Holdings chairman Stephen Green plans to step down and become a trade minister for the British government next year, after steering the banking giant through the financial crisis. Green (pictured) will step down as chairman before the end of the year to become the minister of state for trade and investment in January 2011. 'Stephen's new role is a strong reflection of his credibility and what he has done. I think Stephen has exhibited leadership in steering us through the [financial] crisis,' Peter Wong Tung-shun, HSBC's Asia-Pacific chief executive said. 'We are still an independent bank and did not receive any help from the government,' Wong added, referring to bailouts by the British government, which as a result owns large stakes in Lloyds and the Royal Bank of Scotland Group. Wong said Green's planned departure would not affect succession planning at the financial institution. 'We always expected that Stephen would retire next year and the succession plan will be completed by the end of this year,' he said. He declined to comment on the bank's progress in finding a new chairman, saying it was a matter for the board. However, John Thornton, chairman of HSBC's North American unit, and Rolls-Royce non-executive chairman Simon Robertson have been tipped as leading candidates. Wong said that Green's departure would not affect the bank. 'As far as our business and strategy are concerned, nothing has changed. It will not change because of this move,' he said, adding that HSBC chief executive Michael Geoghegan was in charge of day-to-day management. Shares in HSBC closed down 5 HK cents at HK$79.25 yesterday. The benchmark Hang Seng Index advanced 46.02 points to 21,401.79. It is the second major change at a British bank to be announced within hours. Barclays said investment banking chief Bob Diamond would take over as chief executive from John Varley at the end of March next year. Diamond missed out on the top job when Varley took the helm six years ago. Analysts said it meant the bank was likely to keep much of its focus on the investment banking arm, Barclays Capital. Former Standard Chartered chairman Mervyn Davies served as trade minister under the Labour government which lost power in May.