PARIS (Reuters) - Ties between Vivendi <VIV.PA> and Italy's Mediaset <MS.MI> are not "broken" but nor are they essential to the French media group's strategy as it could find other Italian partners, its chief executive told Les Echos newspaper.

Relations between Mediaset and Vivendi deteriorated after the French broadcaster had a change of heart on its planned purchase of Mediaset's pay-TV, and their spat escalated on Thursday as both threatened legal action.

The two groups signed an agreement in April, which would give Vivendi full control of Mediaset's pay-TV unit Premium and hand the two companies a 3.5 percent stake in each other.

Last week, Vivendi backed out of the binding share-swap agreement saying it no longer wanted all of the pay-TV unit but only a 20 percent stake. It also said it intended to acquire around 15 percent of Mediaset shares in the next three years.

"The ties are not broken," Vivendi Chief Executive Arnaud de Puyfontaine said in an interview with Les Echos to be published on Monday. He reiterated that Vivendi has no plans to take control of Mediaset.

"(A deal with Mediaset) is a not a sine qua non condition (for Vivendi to pursue its strategy in Europe). There are other actors in Italy," he said.

Vivendi's planned purchase was part of a broader strategy by the French group to create a pan-European media and content conglomerate to compete with Rupert Murdoch's Sky <SKYB.L> and video-streaming giant Netflix <NFLX.O>.

(Reporting by Matthias Blamont; Editing by Susan Fenton)