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Goldman M&A head: This is driving merger boom

Mergers and acquisitions have set a blistering pace this year, and the flurry is unlikely to slow until shareholders stop rewarding deals, a top M&A banker said Thursday.

"Shareholders seem to be very, very receptive. Until that changes, this should move along," said Michael Carr, co-head of Goldman Sachs' mergers and acquisitions unit, in a CNBC "Closing Bell" interview.

U.S. M&A agreements have already reached $1.4 trillion this year, easily topping the roughly $930 billion at this point last year, according to S&P Capital IQ. Globally, deal value is on pace to top a record set in 2007.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
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Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

Health care leads all sectors with deals worth $482.3 billion in 2015, including Anthem's late July agreement to buy Cigna for $47 billion. which came just weeks after Aetna's $37 billion deal to buy Humana.

The surge has helped Goldman, one of the top deal-makers for large scale acquisitions. The firm last month reported that second-quarter investment banking revenue jumped more than 10 percent from the previous year.

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Carr sees multiple crucial factors contributing to the flurry of mergers. Amid relatively sluggish economic growth and a low interest rate environment, deals are seen as driving earnings potential, he noted.

Carr added that two-thirds of buyers, and not just the companies being swallowed up, have also enjoyed stock gains after deals this year. As many industries consolidate, executives in those industries feel pressure to make a deal or get left behind, he said.

"CEOs and boards find it very difficult to stand around and watch while that's happening," he said.

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The current environment seems healthier than the two previous banner years for M&A, 2000 and 2007, Carr added.

"To me, it's much more sensible than the last two peaks," he said.

He contended that a high price-to-earnings ratio existed in 2000, but there was "excess liquidity" in 2007.

—CNBC's Matthew Belvedere contributed to this report.