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TALK ISN’T CHEAP, RICH LIST SHOWS

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Soon it may be Oprah with nine O's.

In Forbes magazine's 1995 list of the 400 richest Americans, Oprah Winfrey stands at No. 399. Although she has a considerable way to go, she's en route to becoming America's first black billionaire, the magazine said in its Oct. 16 issue, released Sunday.Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates, whose accomplishments this year included finally introducing Windows 95 and turning the Stones into software pitchmen, held the top spot for the second consecutive year. Forbes put Gates' net worth at about $14.8 billion.

Investor Warren Buffett again assumed the No. 2 slot, this year at roughly $11.8 billion. His bottom line was boosted by about $400 million after The Walt Disney Co. offered $19 billion for Capital Cities/ABC Inc., one of Buffett's longtime holdings.

Seven Utah residents appear on the latest list of the 400 richest:

Jon M. Huntsman, Salt Lake petrochemical magnate, ranked 42nd with a net worth estimated at $2 billion.

Salt Lake entrepreneur James L. Sorenson was No. 75, at $1.1 billion.

L. Samuel Skaggs, retired in Salt Lake City from his former chairmanship of American Stores, was 161st at $690 million.

Oil and hotel investor Earl Holding of Salt Lake City was 162nd with $675 million.

Raymond J. Noorda of Provo is a retired Novell chairman worth an estimated $615 million.

WordPerfect co-founder Alan C. Ashton of Orem was 292nd at $450 million.

Salt Lake entrepreneur Ian Cumming held down No. 398 on the list with an estimated net worth of $345 million.

Winfrey, the only entertainer on the annual list, is worth about $340 million, which Forbes said put her just ahead of New York money manager Leon Levy. The 41-year-old Chicagoan owns her top-rated talk show and production company, Harpo (Oprah spelled backwards), and holds a big stake in the show's distributor, King World Productions Inc.

Winfrey's coffers will continue to grow as she benefits from five-year deals for "The Oprah Winfrey Show," signed last year with 210 television stations, plus a six-film commitment from ABC and King World stock options. She also plans to become a Hollywood producer.

Gates, 39, of Bellevue, Wash., called the Forbes list "silly" last year when he edged Buffett for No. 1 at $9.35 billion. This year, his 20-year-old company, which supplies the software for 80 percent of the world's personal computers, dominated news pages and advertising space with the Windows 95 software launched Aug. 24.

Buffett, 65, of Omaha, Neb., renowned for building his Berkshire Hathaway Inc. investment firm with long-term investments in steady successes such as Coca-Cola and Cap Cities, is about $2.6 billion richer than last year.

Gates and Buffett also are the wealthiest commoners in the world, Forbes said. The only foreigners who aren't royalty and approach their riches are Swedish packaging magnate Hans Rausing and Japanese railroad and hotel tycoon Yoshiaki Tsutsumi, both worth about $9 billion.