Loss-making Fiat is planning a massive reduction of its international operations Reuters reported, citing the news magazine Il Mondo.

According to Reuters the magazine said Fiat, after making global expansion a priority in recent decades, will now either sell or close facilities in Morocco, South Africa, Egypt, Thailand and Pakistan.

A company spokesman told Reuters he could not comment on the report, which suggests the report is largely accurate.

Closure of the South African operation would be a blow to South Africa’s rapidly developing motor industry, fast being integrated into various car companies’ global production systems.

The Palio – which Fiat billed at launch as its ‘world car for developing markets – is built there for both local sale and exports.

Reuters also cited the Italian magazine as saying that Fiat would also keep output at minimal levels in Argentina and investments in Russia frozen for the time being.

Fiat would consolidate in China, India and Turkey as well as its number two market Brazil [another key Palio production facility], the Reuters report said.

According to Reuters, Il Mondo said Fiat’s international operation, which generates 24% of group revenues, wanted to report an operating profit of 100 million euros by 2005, up from an expected loss of 50 million euros this year.