Apple’s Director for Brazil Alexandre Szapiro has left the company after five years, the Brazilian press reports. While Apple’s PR confirmed his departure, it didn’t comment on allegations that he will now head Amazon’s operations in the country.

According to Isto É Dinheiro, his poaching is already a done deal, as Szapiro reportedly took part in an integration program at Amazon’s Seattle HQ last week.

As for Apple, it is about to move into new offices in São Paulo’s neighborhood of Itaim Bibi, Veja reveals. According to the Brazilian media outlet, the company agreed to let 6 full office suites for a whopping R$1 million monthly rental ($492k USD). They will be located in the prestigious Infinity Tower, which is also home to Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, Bloomberg, Louis Vuitton and… Facebook.

While Apple has been notoriously low-profile in Brazil, its local presence has been quietly growing over the last few months, as Foxconn is now manufacturing iPhones, iPads and other components from its Brazilian factories.

Apple vs. Amazon

Szapiro’s experience in establishing a local production base for Apple products is the exact reason why Amazon decided to hire him, Veja’s website claims. According to its sources, the retail giant is considering the opportunity to manufacture Kindles in one of Foxconn’s Brazilian plants.

No matter where it is manufactured, one of Amazon’s ambitions is to transform its Kindle e-readers into mainstream products in Brazil, while its Kindle Fire tablet should follow later on.

Yet, managing hardware launches will only be one of Szapiro’s tasks, as he shall overview all of Amazon’s operations in Brazil. For instance, Palm’s former vice president for Brazil will also supervise commercial agreements with publishers, Isto É notes.

As you may know, Amazon is planning to officially land in Brazil before the end of the year, starting with its digital publishing activities. Yet its negotiations with local publishers have been so slow that Apple may leapfrog it. According to Radar On-Line, the Cupertino firm has already closed key deals to launch its iBookstore in Brazil – but ended up deciding that it will operate from the US and in dollars.

Still, it seems that Amazon is making progress on its way to Brazil. In addition to hiring Szapiro, it finally reached an agreement to take control of the amazon.com.br domain, after a long legal battle with the Brazilian company Amazon Informatica.

Image credit: JD Lasica