* Blocked from getting Essent stake in nuclear plant
* Court says stake must remain in public hands
* RWE maintains that its offer is in line with law
(Adds another RWE response)
AMSTERDAM, July 10 (Reuters) - German utility RWE (RWEG.DE) cannot acquire Essent's 50 percent stake in the Netherland's only nuclear power plant, a Dutch court ruled on Friday, saying the stake would have to remain in public hands.
RWE had intended to take over the stake in the Borssele plant as part of its 8.2 billion euro ($11.4 billion) takeover of Essent.
However, Dutch utility Delta, Essent's partner in the plant, opposed RWE's acquisition of the stake, arguing that the statutes governing the partnership between Essent and Delta stipulated it could not be sold to a listed company.
The court in Arnhem upheld the statutes in a preliminary ruling and said in a statement that the stake should remain in public hands. A full consideration and ruling will follow.
Essent and RWE had suggested RWE could become the economic owner of the stake while Essent's public shareholders would still have legal ownership, but the court rejected the construction.
An RWE spokeswoman said her company still considered the construction in line with the law. RWE's finance director Rolf Pohlig last month told Reuters RWE was not in discussions to give up Essent's stake in Borssele and wanted to keep it. Essent's public shareholders said they were disappointed with the ruling as they felt the proposed construction would preserve the public interest, Dutch agency ANP reported.
The Dutch authorities have phased out all nuclear power stations except for the one in Borssele, which is due to stay operational until 2033.
But Delta has started to apply to build a second nuclear power plant in the Netherlands, which it expects will be operational in 2018. ($1=.7173 euros) (Reporting by Reed Stevenson, Catherine Hornby and Tom Kaeckenhoff; Editing by Greg Mahlich)