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Qwest Communications has finally given up on its pursuit of MCI, despite having a larger bid than rival Verizon Communications.

During Qwest's shareholder meeting today, CEO Richard Notebaert delivered the painful news to investors. "We're not looking at MCI," he said, according to a Reuters report. "That's over."

And so ends an active chapter in an already frenetic telecommunications industry.

Qwest and Verizon took numerous swipes at each other over MCI, sweetening bids time and again. In the end, MCI's board decided that an $8.4bn bid from Verizon was the safer long-term choice than Qwest's $9.8bn bid. The MCI board has pitched Verizon to shareholders as the more stable suitor, warning that numerous large customers have threatened to cancel their contracts should the Qwest takeover go through.

The US telecommunications industry has been in rather rapid consolidation mode after enduring a huge drop in sales and its fair share of accounting scandal. ®

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