FRANKFURT -- Volkswagen Group CEO Herbert Diess said Luca de Meo, the former head of VW's Seat brand, was probably in talks with Renault about moving to the French automaker.
"We are very, very sad that Luca is leaving us because he played a very important role in the group," Diess told CNBC on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos.
"He did a great job with us, but we accepted that he's going to leave and he's probably in talks with Renault, that's what he told us," Diess said.
De Meo has been in talks with Renault to become CEO but faces a potential hurdle over a stringent non-compete clause in his VW Group contract, sources told Reuters previously.
De Meo stepped down as head of Seat earlier this month but remained a VW Group employee. The Italian executive was in charge of Spain-based Seat for four years, overseeing a resurgence in the brand's sales and boosting its prominence within the VW Group.
Renault ousted Thierry Bollore as CEO in October and named Clotilde Delbos at interim chief executive.
Renault declined to comment on the matter on Thursday.
Renault Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard said this week that a new CEO would be named shortly.
The French state, which has a stake in Renault, has given its tacit backing to de Meo's possible appointment. "There is no reason the state would oppose de Meo's nomination," a source at the economy ministry said.
Separately, Renault and its Japanese partner Nissan last week rejected media reports that their 20-year-old alliance was in danger of being dissolved.