British regional newspaper group Johnston Press has abandoned a process aimed at selling off its titles in the Republic of Ireland titles.

In a trading statement this morning, the group said there had been 'considerable interest' from industry and financial buyers, but the board decided that potential offers were not at a high enough price to be in the company's best interests.

Johnston Press owns the Leinster Leader group, the Leitrim Observer, the Kilkenny People and the Longford Leader and also has a number of interests in Northern Ireland.

The company saw the sell-off of its Irish titles as crucial to raise funds, and had warned that it could breach its financial covenants with lenders if the sale were not completed. It has now begun talks with lenders on a relaxation of terms.

The trading statement said Johnston Press's advertising revenues in the year so far are down 34% compared with a year earlier, though there has been some stabilisation recently. The company says it is cutting costs, but its measures will not be enough to compensate for the fall in advertising. Johnston Press says its profits for 2009 are likely to be near the lower end of market expectations.