MCI Inc. (MCIP) on Monday accepted a sweetened takeover offer of about $8.5 billion from Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ), pushing Qwest Communications International Inc. (Q) to end its pursuit.

The following are key developments in the battle to acquire MCI, which emerged from bankruptcy last year after an $11 billion accounting scandal. The No. 2 U.S. long-distance telephone and data services company was formerly known as WorldCom.

2005

Feb. 3 — After several months of talks, MCI Inc. gets a $6.3 billion takeover bid from Qwest, the No. 4 U.S. local telephone company, and holds talks with another potential suitor, Verizon.

Feb. 13 — Qwest hiked its takeover offer for MCI to about $8 billion in cash and stock, sources said.

Feb. 14 — Verizon clinches a deal to buy MCI for $6.8 billion, despite Qwest's revised offer.

Feb. 17 — Qwest said it would submit a new bid to buy MCI, raising the prospect of a bidding war. It did not disclose what it would be willing to pay.

Feb. 24 — Qwest modified its $8 billion bid by adding protection against a drop in its stock price and giving shareholders a faster cash payout.

March 1 — Qwest ratcheted up its sales pitch for its offer, telling Wall Street it was superior to Verizon's winning bid. MCI pledged to thoroughly review Qwest's offer.

March 2 — Verizon granted MCI two weeks to hold additional negotiations with its rival suitor. Qwest said it had been given limited access to MCI's financial data, and expressed concerned whether its revised offer would get a thorough review.

March 3 — Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim, MCI's largest shareholder, called the bids from both Verizon and Qwest too low.

March 15 — Qwest Chairman Richard Notebaert presents his case for a deal to MCI's board of directors.

March 16 — Verizon criticized Qwest's bid, saying its smaller rival's finances were weak and it could not prove its claims of savings from buying MCI.

March 17 — Qwest sweetened its takeover offer to $8.45 billion, topping the deal with Verizon by $1.7 billion. MCI said it would reply to the new offer by March 28.

March 21 — Verizon and Qwest traded public barbs over their competing bids. Qwest also contended MCI had refused to continue negotiations over its bid. The bidder also sought more information about MCI's legal obligations.

March 23 — Verizon agreed to let MCI continue discussions with Qwest through March 28. MCI said it would talk to Qwest but did not comment on any deadline for a decision.

March 28 — Qwest set an April 5 deadline for MCI to accept or reject its $8.45 billion bid. Qwest had also increased the financing available for its deal by $500 million to $5.75 billion.

March 29 — MCI accepted Verizon's revised takeover bid of $7.6 billion, citing the nation's largest telephone company's scale and growth prospects.

March 30 — Qwest said it hired the proxy firm Altman Group, a move some shareholders viewed as a sign it may be girding for a hostile bid.

March 31 — Qwest revised its offer by hiking the price tag to $9 billion, offering more cash and adding improved protections against fluctuations in its stock price.

April 1 - MCI said it would reopen merger talks with Qwest. Verizon granted its permission for the two companies to hold talks up until MCI shareholders vote on the Verizon proposal.

April 4 - Qwest tells MCI it has commitments for $5.75 billion in financing. Verizon tells MCI if it deems Qwest's bid superior, Verizon will withdraw its offer.

April 6 - MCI rejects Qwest's bid, saying Verizon had better prospects and customers were wary of a Qwest deal.

April 9 - Verizon strikes deal to buy out largest MCI shareholder, telecommunications magnate Carlos Slim Helu, acquiring 13.4 percent of MCI shares for $1.1 billion. Move angers some shareholders who demand equal treatment.

April 21 - Qwest raises bid to $9.9 billion, calling it a "best and final offer" after three previous rejections. Says major MCI shareholders have committed to buy $800 million in Qwest shares should deal go through.

April 23 - MCI deems Qwest's bid "superior," giving Verizon five business days to respond.

May 2 - MCI accepts a revised offer from Verizon for about $8.5 billion, or at least $26 per share. Qwest withdraws from the bidding, saying the process was skewed in Verizon's favor.