Starboard Value's Jeff Smith on Thursday launched an activist campaign at Parexel International, (PRXL)   urging the multinational life sciences consulting firm to complete a "robust" review and a sale of the business, in a move that comes after reports that the company may be working with investment bankers to auction itself.

According to an activist 13D filing, Smith reported owning a 5.7% stake and also suggested that there were substantial opportunities to improve Parexel's operating margins. The fund argued that there was a significant "disparity" between its operating margins and those of its peers.

The fund's efforts come in the wake of reports that Parexel is working with investment bankers to explore a sale of the company. Smith noted, in the filing, that if a "legitimate, robust" process was run that he believed that there would be "significant strategic and financial buyer interest."

Parexel said in a statement that its management team are "committed to serving the best interest" of the company and shareholders. It added that its board and management "regularly consider the strategic direction of the company."

Parexel has a $3.8 billion market capitalization. Its share price was up about 0.28% to $74.72 a share in pre-market trading on the news.

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