President Vladimir Putin may become the next chairman of Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom when he steps down following a presidential election in March, Vedomosti business daily reported on Friday.

The newspaper cited two sources close to Gazprom and one source close to first deputy prime minister and current Gazprom chairman Dmitry Medvedev, whom Putin has designated as a preferred candidate to succeed him.

Gazprom and the Kremlin declined immediate comments.

Medvedev has said he would step down as the chairman of Gazprom, the world's largest gas producer and supplier of a quarter of Europe's gas, if he becomes president, but did not say who could replace him.

Putin has said he could become prime minister under Medvedev. He has repeatedly denied plans to head a major state energy company, such as Gazprom or oil champion Rosneft.

Gazprom's chairman plays an important strategic role, while the firm's day-to-day operations are managed by its chief executive, Alexei Miller.

(Reporting by Dmitry Zhdannikov; Editing by Paul Bolding)