M&A will be better in second half of year: Goldman's Waldron

After a tough first quarter, M&A activity is picking up again, said John Waldron, co-head of the investment banking division at Goldman Sachs.

Following a record number of deals in 2015, volume is down 20 percent year to date. That's because the first quarter was marked by market volatility, which made it tougher to get deals done, Waldron said in an interview with CNBC's "Closing Bell."

However, he said it has been getting better month by month. The transactions just take time to happen.

"I do think that the second half of the year will be better. You can see it in the backlog, in the pipeline. You can see it in the sentiment shift. You can see it in boardrooms," said Waldron. "We're pretty constructive on the marketplace."

He said there are two things happening that are contributing to the portfolio repositioning by corporations.

For one, this is still a low-growth environment with low interest rates, a lot of cash on corporate balance sheets, high margins and a tough growth environment for companies.

"That begets synergies. That begets a desire for companies to try to find ways to rationalize their own business, and often a transaction is a better way to do that," Waldron explained.

He also believes the marketplace is rewarding companies that are more focused and create scale in a leading franchise. Therefore, a company that may have multiple businesses will often get bigger and better in its business with the leading position, perhaps through a merger. It may spin off or sell its less relevant business, he said.

While this year saw the collapse of several high-profile mergers, including the $35 billion deal between Halliburton and Baker Hughes, Waldron believes the concerns about the regulatory environment have been a bit overstated.

"There's no question the regulatory environment is more challenging as we're getting later into the consolidation in many of these industries. It's a natural outgrowth of that," he said.

However, there haven't been that many deals stopped, he added.

"They do tend to be higher profile. They do tend to get more reported, but it hasn't actually been that much of the volume."

So where are deals getting done? Waldron said he is seeing a lot of activity in the technology sector, as well as health care. He also thinks there will be more deals in the industrial landscape.