Mr McColl last week revealed his hopes of taking over the Port Glasgow yard to The Herald. He highlighted his aim of creating several hundred jobs within the next few years, returning the yard to its former glory.
Seventy of the remaining 77 employees at the Port Glasgow yard, which can trace its roots back to 1902, were made redundant after the business fell into administration on August 14.
Blair Nimmo and Tony Friar of KPMG, who were appointed as joint administrators of Ferguson Shipbuilders Limited, Newark Joiners Limited and Ferguson-Ailsa on August 14, named Clyde Blowers Capital as preferred bidder for the group's business and its assets and expect to complete a sale within two weeks.
Another bid involved the Easdale Brothers, Sandy and James, who run McGill's Buses.
Jim McColl, chairman and chief executive officer of Clyde Blowers Capital, said: "We are pleased to have been selected as the preferred bidder for Fergusons which we believe has the potential to grow into a leading marine engineering business.
"Work is now under way to develop a plan to rebuild Fergusons. We look forward to working with all the key stakeholders in that rebuilding process."
Finance Secretary John Swinny and Inverclyde Council leader Councillor Stephen McCabe said: "Our commitment remains from the Scottish Government, its agencies and Inverclyde Council that we will do everything in our power to secure a future for Ferguson's and its employees. Our priority is securing the business as a going concern while providing necessary support to keep the workforce together."
First Minister Alex Salmond said: "I am delighted that Clyde Blowers Capital has been named the preferred bidder for the Ferguson's yard. Jim McColl's company is one of Scotland's greatest job creators, and I will be meeting with the company, the workforce and shop stewards to ensure there will be a long-term future for shipbuilding at Ferguson's for years to come.
"I have spoken to the administrator today, and I'd like to thank him for the speed with which he has moved to try and secure a successful outcome."
Blair Nimmo said: "We would like to thank all parties who expressed an interest in securing the heritage and future of Ferguson Shipbuilders. There are still ongoing discussions to be had with Clyde Blowers, however, we are now confident a sale can be achieved quickly.
"This is a positive first step towards the potential resumption of ship building and ship repair activities at Port Glasgow. We would also like to thank all parties for their continued support and patience during a challenging time for all concerned - employees, shop stewards, union representatives, the Scottish Government, Inverclyde Council and local elected members."