A Citigroup-led consortium is expected to be officially declared the preferred bidder for Guangdong Development Bank on Thursday, barring late developments, the <i>Financial Times</i> reported, citing people familiar with the situation. The struggling lender has been the target of a prolonged bidding war between Citigroup, a rival consortium led by Societe Generale, the French bank, and Ping An, a local insurance company. The bidding has been affected by a political debate about the sale of Chinese state assets to foreigners. IBM, the US computer giant, has agreed to join Citigroup's consortium and acquire a 5% stake. Other members include China Life, the mainland's biggest insurer, State Grid Corporation and Citic Trust, a Beijing-backed conglomerate. Citigroup and IBM on Monday declined to comment. A winner has been identified by sources several times in the past, but each time it has proved to be a false alarm.