US long distance phone carrier MCI has rejected another takeover bid by Qwest Communications.

Tuesday's midnight deadline for acceptance of Qwest's $8.9 billion (€6.9bn, £4.7bn) offer passed, leaving the way open for MCI's $7.6bn deal with telecoms giant Verizon Communications - which it has already accepted twice.

Qwest's attempts to derail the merger have produced consistently higher bids but Verizon, valued at $99bn, is viewed by the MCI board as a financially stable long-term partner. Qwest is valued at $7bn with a $17bn debt.

Verizon had said it would walk away from any deal rather than up its offer if MCI - aka Worldcom before a massive fraud scandal last year - accepted Qwest's latest bid.

Qwest must now decide whether to concede defeat or launch a hostile takeover. A spokeswoman says the company is "weighing its options ... shareowners will help dictate the next step in the process".

Data sourced from Financial Times online; additional content by WARC staff