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By Ben Klayman DETROIT (Reuters) - General Motors Co CEO Dan Akerson will step down next month and be replaced by GM "lifer" and global product chief Mary Barra, a sign that the development of new vehicles will be the paramount focus of the company that emerged from bankruptcy four years ago. The appointment of Barra, 51, is at once groundbreaking - she will be the first woman to lead a global automaker - and yet also very traditional. Her father is a long-time GM employee and Barra has spent her entire 33-year career at the No. 1 U.S. automaker. Barra's ascension also marks the re-emergence of an engineer at the helm of GM, a company long dominated by financial executives who were sometimes criticized by investors as lacking experience on the product side of the business.