Regional publisher Johnston Press has sold its 14 newspapers in the Republic of Ireland for more than £100m less than it paid for them nine yeas ago.
The media group confirmed it has accepted a cash offer £7.2m from Iconic Newspapers Ltd, owned by advertising executive Malcolm Denmark.
Johnston Press paid around £115m to acquire the titles in 2005 but chief executive Ashley Highfield has now made clear his intention to focus on its UK operations.
The 14 newspapers, which include the Limerick Leader, Donegal Democrat and Kilkenny People, collectively made an operating profit of around 1.3m euros in the past year.
Said Ashley: “The disposal of our trade and assets in the Republic of Ireland will increase our ability to focus on the growth of our business in the United Kingdom and in particular our digital initiatives, in line with our stated strategy.
“We believe that it is in the Group’s best interests to dedicate our resources to these opportunities.
I would like to thank the staff of our Irish business for their loyalty and dedication over the years and we wish them well for a successful future.”
Thr Irish Times reported that Mr Denmark announced the news while attending an awards ceremony as the guest the Limerick Leader.
He said: “I feel lucky and privileged to have bought the Limerick Leader. It has come back into private hands. The Limerick Chronicle is the oldest paper in Ireland and I think it is a title that is very important to what we want to do,” Mr Denmark said.
“We want to get more involved in and re-engage with the communities where more investment is needed,” he added.
“It’s really important that we are not part of a corporate group. I am not trying to bring an English solution to Ireland.”