S&P open to settling Justice Department suit AFP 2/12/2013 4:02:07 PM Standard & Poor's intends to vigorously contest the US lawsuit on its mortgage bond ratings, but is open to a "reasonable settlement," a company official said Tuesday."We are always open to a reasonable settlement," executive vice president and general counsel Ken Vittor said in a conference call. "If there is a reasonable settlement made to us in any case, we are open to discuss it."The remarks came in response to a question during a conference call to discuss earnings results for S&P parent McGraw-Hill.The call was dominated by queries about the Department of Justice lawsuit filed last week alleging S&P knowingly misrepresented credit ratings on mortgage securities in order to win business from issuers.Thirteen states have filed concurrent actions with the federal case, while other states are conducting investigations.Vittor said S&P is required to formally respond to the Justice Department complaint within 90 days. Vittor said that while it was hard to predict the date of a potential trial, that "two to three years would be a reasonable estimate."McGraw-Hill reported a fourth-quarter net loss of $216 million compared with $214 million profit in the year-earlier period.Shares were up 0.3 percent in late-morning trade in New York. McGraw-Hill shares fell nearly 27 percent last week following news of the Justice Department litigation.