Ballmer on Yahoo Deal: The Bankers “screwed everything up.”

Interesting and surprisingly detailed story in the Wall Street Journal tonight about the ongoing (never ending) Microsoft/Yahoo deal. The headline is that Microsoft, apparently not happy with simply destroying Yahoo’s credibility, is now hoping to rip it apart and divide up the pieces.

Microsoft Corp., positioning itself for a new run for Yahoo Inc.’s search business, has approached other media companies in recent days about joining it in a deal that would effectively lead to Yahoo’s breakup, say people familiar with the discussions.Microsoft has held discussions with Time Warner Inc. and News Corp., among others, say people involved in the talks. In the past, Microsoft has floated an arrangement under which it would acquire Yahoo’s search business and another partner, such as News Corp.’s MySpace or Time Warner’s AOL, would combine forces with what remained of Yahoo.

But the interesting part of the story is the long timeline that contains more details than have been previously disclosed. Much of this information has already been disclosed, but new details are emerging on the more recent talks, specifically the new negotiations that began in the second half of June (see image to right).

In one meeting in May where the bankers weren’t present, both sides apparently blamed those bankers for the breakdown in communication (Microsoft used Morgan Stanley, Yahoo used Golman Sachs):

Early in the discussion, Messrs. Bostock and Ballmer lamented the bankers’ influence on the negotiations, with Mr. Ballmer concluding that bankers had “screwed everything up.”

What’s interesting isn’t that the statements were made (throw away comments like this are made all the time in negotiations), but that they’re being leaked to the WSJ. Perhaps someone (Yahoo Board) is looking for anyone to point a finger at but themselves. That may be absurd, since its been very strongly rumored that Yahoo actually incentivized Goldman Sachs through the fee agreement to kill the deal.