Well-known names such as RJR Nabisco and R.H. Macy have joined the ranks of private companies in recent years, but Minneapolis-based Cargill maintained a firm grip on the No. 1 ranking in sales, Forbes magazine says.

Cargill, a commodities marketer, was first for the sixth straight year in the Forbes annual ranking, released Sunday. The company had estimated revenues of $44 billion last year, the magazine said.Total sales of the largest private U.S. companies' have doubled since 1985, in large part because of the dramatic rise in the number of publicly held companies taken private through leveraged buyouts, Forbes magazine reports.

Cargill's total sales were nearly triple the sales of second-ranked Koch Industries, a petroleum, natural gas and chemicals company based in Wichita, Kan., with an estimated $17.2 billion in sales.

All told, the Forbes list of top private companies in the Dec. 10 edition showed that sales of the biggest 400 companies increased from $340 billion when the list was first started in 1985 to $609 billion last year. In 1989 the figure totaled $592 billion.

Helping to boost the jump in sales, 120 of those companies were new to the list, having been taken private in leveraged buyouts. That includes such giants as retailer R.H. Macy, food and tobacco giant RJR Nabisco, Trans World Airlines and the parent companies of Revlon and Northwest Airlines.

Forbes reported that 48 of the 400 largest companies are based in New York - more than any other city.