Brazil's president Michel Temer has surprised local practitioners by annulling the appointment of Amanda Athayde Linhares Martins as general superintendent of the country's competition authority, and replacing her with current commissioner Alexandre Cordeiro Macedo.
Brazil's Administrative Council for Economic Defence (CADE) said the move was the decision of the president but would not comment further on the reasons for it.
A notice published in Brazil's Official Gazette on 8 September said current CADE commissioner Cordeiro is to take up the position of General Superintendent with a mandate of two years, being replaced as commissioner by Polyanna Ferreira Silva Vilanova, and reversing Athayde's appointment announced in August.
A spokesperson for the Brazilian authority said Athayde will remain as head of its leniency programme, and said she is doing a "remarkable" job in the role. Athayde will still have the opportunity to be considered for future appointments, the spokesperson said. In September, CADE updated its leniency and settlement procedures.
The spokesperson added both Athayde and Cordeiro have been doing a great job at CADE and both are excellent names to fulfil the position of general superintendent.
Cordeiro has been working as a commissioner at CADE since July 2014 and was responsible for the economic analysis of the agency's big cases.
His replacement, Vilanova, is a partner at Siqueira Castro Advogados and specialises in consumer protection and civil procedural law.
Daniel Oliveira Andreoli, a partner at TozziniFreire Advogados, said rumours - that Athayde was replaced because she was too young for the position - cannot be justified. In Brazilian law the general superintendent has to be at least 30 years old.
"Her age cannot be an excuse; she will be 30 next week and they could have just delayed her appointment if they thought it was an issue," he said.
Cordeiro's name was mentioned as a potential candidate to fulfil the the general superintendent role in the original selection process, Andreoli said, but he does not see Cordeiro as a political actor nor think he was pushing for the change to be made.
Andreoli noted the appointment of Vilanova is good to show there are equal opportunities at the agency but it will remain to be seen how she performs in the role.
Rafael Szmid at Hogan Lovells LLP in São Paulo said the annulment of Athayde as general superintendent was not expected but is reasonable if she does not fulfil the minimum age requirement.
He said Cordeiro has accumulated significant experience and is someone who knows the relationship between CADE's tribunal and the general superintendent well. He noted it will be "important" to see if Cordeiro has the same commitment to fighting cartels as Athayde had.
Leonardo Peres da Rocha e Silva, a partner at Pinheiro Neto Advogados, said the annulment was "absolutely unpredictable" and will need to be carefully examined during the next weeks and months.
He added that the impact of the nomination of Vilanova is very difficult to predict.
Polyanna Ferreira Silva Vilanova declined to comment.