PARIS -- Renault has appointed Luca de Meo, the former head of Volkswagen Group's Seat brand, as CEO as the automaker looks to move on from the Carlos Ghosn era.
De Meo has been a front-runner to replace ousted CEO Thierry Bollore for months but his appointment was delayed because he had a noncompete clause with VW Group.
De Meo, 52, will take up the post on July 1, Renault said in a statement on Tuesday. He replaces Clotilde Delbos, who took over as Renault's interim CEO after Bollore stepped down in October. Delbos will continue as interim CEO until de Meo takes office, Renault said. The board would like her to become deputy CEO after that, the statement said.
De Meo will be prohibited from disclosing competitive information for five months and must spend that time at his home before officially starting at Renault, the French newspaper Le Figaro reported Tuesday.
His hiring as CEO will need to be approved at Renault's general shareholders' meeting in April.
De Meo was CEO of VW Group's Seat brand for five years until he stepped down this month. He led Seat to record sales, including 517,600 in 2018, an 11 percent increase from 2017, and gave the brand a sportier image, creating the Cupra subbrand aimed at youthful buyers.
De Meo's appointment marks a return to the company where he started his career in 1992 in product marketing.
After five years at Renault, he moved to Toyota Motor Europe as a product manager for the Yaris small car and the Lexus brand. In 2002 de Meo moved to Fiat Chrysler, where he led the Alfa Romeo, Abarth and eventually Fiat brands. In 2009 he moved to the VW Group, working first on marketing for the VW brand and then leading marketing and sales at Audi.
De Meo has an understanding of both French and Japanese culture and way of doing business. Those skills will be important at Renault, in which the French government holds a 15 percent stake in Renault and expects to be a partner in major business and strategic decisions.
He was born in Milan in 1967 and studied business administration at the city's Bocconi University. In addition to Italian, de Meo speaks English, French, German and Spanish.
De Meo will take operational charge of Renault under its chairman, Jean-Dominique Senard, when the French automaker faces challenges on all fronts.
Renault is struggling to move beyond the 2018 arrest of Ghosn, its long-time chairman and CEO, who was chairman of alliance partners Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors. Ghosn's departure exposed tensions that nearly tore the alliance apart, even as a weakening of demand in key markets has hurt sales and earnings.
Reuters and Bloomberg contributed to this report.