P.M. BRIEFING : Holly Farms Rejects Takeover Bid

<i> From Times wire services </i>

Holly Farms Corp., the chicken processor embroiled in a five-month takeover battle, said today that its board has rejected a sweetened $1.15-billion bid by its rival Tyson Foods Inc.

Holly shares soon jumped 75 cents to $62.125 on the New York Stock Exchange. Traders said the board’s rejection may prompt Conagra Inc.--Holly’s “white knight” in the chicken war--to raise its own $1.06-billion offer for the company.

Conagra, a giant food products concern, agreed to a $59.25-a-share stock swap with Holly in December to rescue the company from Springdale, Ark.-based Tyson. Tyson, the nation’s top chicken producer, had been offering $63.50 a share for Holly, which ranks fifth in the field.