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said holders of 76% of its outstanding 7.2% notes due Nov. 1 have accepted the company's tender offer.

The Denver telco said $569 million worth of the Qwest notes had been tendered into the offer as of Tuesday, the early participation deadline. Qwest had offered to pay $989.40 per $1,000 principal amount of notes and an early participation payment of $20 per $1,000 principal amount for notes tendered by 5 p.m. Tuesday.

The tender offer is due to expire Sept. 8. The company has spent the last two years slashing debt in a push to reduce costs and bring expenses in line with eroding sales. Qwest has managed to cut its debt by about a third since CEO Dick Notebaert took over in 2002, but it still has some $17 billion in debt outstanding.

The company earlier this month sold $575 million in 7.88% seven-year notes to help pay for the tender.

On Wednesday, Qwest rose a penny to $2.71.