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GM CEO envisions a woman running a U.S. automaker one day

The General Motors logo is seen outside its headquarters at the Renaissance Center in Detroit, Michigan in this file photograph taken August 25, 2009. REUTERS/Jeff Kowalsky/Files

DETROIT (Reuters) - General Motors Co's (GM) chief executive said on Wednesday he envisioned a woman running one of the three U.S. automakers one day, and that it was inevitable in an industry where half the customers are female.

"The Detroit 3 are all run by noncar guys," Dan Akerson said at a conference, referring to GM, the top U.S. automaker, and its smaller rivals, Ford Motor Co (NYS:F) and Chrysler Group LLC(MIL:F). "Some day, there'll be a Detroit 3 that's run by a car gal."

"I don't know when, but I think there are an unbelievable number of talented women in automotive, certainly at General Motors," Akerson said. "It's inevitable."

One of the executives whom analysts and industry observers have cited as a potential successor to Akerson is Mary Barra, GM's global product development chief.

Akerson declined to say whether a $3.2-billion buyback of preferred shares from a United Auto Workers union trust announced Monday, and an upgrade to investment-grade level by a major U.S. credit rating agency, would lead to a common dividend at the company. He said GM continued on its plan to improve profitability and cash flow.

(Reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit; Editing by Bernadette Baum)