EU probes Areva-Siemens nuclear joint venture

* Siemens wants to overturn non-competition clause-paper

* Siemens’ talks with Russia’s Rosatom on hold

(Updates with Commission’s statement)

BRUSSELS, June 2 (Reuters) - The European Commission opened an investigation on Wednesday into whether a deal between France's Areva CEPFi.PA and Germany's Siemens SIEGn.DE on ending a nuclear power joint venture breaches competition rules.

Siemens wants to exit the Areva NP joint venture, in which it holds 35 percent, and hopes the Commission will overturn a non-competition clause that would prevent the German company from competing with Areva for eight years, French newspaper Le Figaro reported.

“The Commission will determine whether the non-compete clauses and the other contractual restrictions constitute a violation of the competition rules,” the European Union’s anti-trust watchdog said.

“This procedural step does not imply that the Commission has conclusive proof of an infringement. It only means that the Commission will conduct an in-depth investigation of the case,” it added.

Overturning the clause in its agreement with Areva would enable Siemens to offer its own nuclear plant technology.

Siemens reckons that every new nuclear power plant built could generate about 1 billion euros ($1.22 billion) in revenue, Germany’s Sueddeutsche Zeitung said.

Siemens is in talks with Russia’s Rosatom about a cooperation but those talks are on hold. Areva said in December a court blocked the Siemens-Rosatom tie-up until mediation over the Areva NP joint venture was completed.

($1=.8231 euros)

(Reporting by Marcin Grajewski in Brussels, Benjamin Mallet and Arno Schuetze in Frankfurt; Editing by Erica Billingham)

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