The struggling publisher, valued at less that £5mln, put itself up for sale last month after failing to find a way to refinance its £220mln of bond debts which mature next June.
Neither DMGT or Johnston have commented on the story, which was first reported by Sky News.
The i was bought by Johnston for £24mln back in 2016 and is seen as the jewel in the crown of the company’s 200-strong portfolio of regional papers.
The value of those titles, including The Scotsman and the Yorkshire Post, has tumbled in recent years though following a decline in traditional and digital advertising revenues.
Back in September, the i’s circulation dropped 9% from a year earlier to 242,408 copies.
In its latest results, Johnston Press reported a 10% fall in revenues during the first half of 2018.
It swung back to a profit of £6.2mln for the six-month period, but this was almost entirely due to a one-off accounting gain of £8.8mln.
Custos Group, headed up by Norwegian entrepreneur Christen Ager-Hanssen, has a 20% stake in Johnston and has been linked with a potential bid approach in the past.
US hedge funds were also said to be positioning themselves for a takeover last year after snapping up the company’s bonds at a discount.
Johnston shares jumped 22% to 4.0p, while DMGT shares edged 0.7% higher to 705p.