The publishing group received an offer of around 150-million euros, far less than expected, Ireland's Sunday Business Post newspaper reported.
Offers fell below the 250-million euros linked to the sale, but at least two bidders are believed to still be involved in the race to secure the unit, a number of sources in the industry are cited as saying.
The publisher has taken radical steps to restructure in recent years, which include selling its flagship UK title the Independent, in response to high levels of debt and tough trading.
The Sekanjalo consortium led by the philanthropist Iqbal Surve is the frontrunner to secure the unit, but INM is still hopeful of reaching a higher price through a competitive process, according to the newspaper.
The company announced last July that it had appointed advisors to look at a range of options for its South African operations.
INM generates about two-thirds of revenue from local newspapers in Ireland, including the dominant daily and Sunday titles north and south of the border, and the rest from it's South African unit, where it is the leading newspaper publisher. – Reuters