Saudi wealth fund leads fundraising for online used car trader

A unit of Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund is leading a $35m funding round for Dubai-based

A unit of Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund is leading a $35m funding round for as the Dubai-based online car trader plans to expand in the kingdom.

Sanabil Investments is backing the start-up’s latest fundraising, along with Gulf Investment Corp. and Olayan Financing Co., chief executive officer Saygin Yalcin said in an interview.

Evercore Inc. is advising, he said.

“Expansion in Saudi Arabia is going to be the number one use for these funds, and this will really accelerate growth,” said Yalcin. “We will be twice as big in Saudi Arabia as we are in the United Arab Emirates in the next 18 months.”

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund is investing in regional tech start-ups as the kingdom seeks to diversify its economy and draw firms to the country. The fund has invested in Uber Technologies Inc. and Dubai-based business-tycoon Mohamed Alabbar’s e-commerce firm Noon. It also set up a $1.1bn fund of funds to invest in venture capital and private equity.

Tech Deals, an online marketplace for used cars, has seen a pick up in activity after a regional economic slowdown led to a drop in new car sales. The company is already profitable, Yalcin said, declining to give details.

The fundraising follows a record year for venture capital in the Middle East and North Africa. Almost 600 start-ups in the Middle East received more than $700m in funding last year, according to a MAGNiTT report.

Uber agreed to buy Middle East rival Careem Inc. for $3.1bn last year. Music streaming app Anghami is considering hiring JPMorgan Chase & Co. to raise fresh capital, and online baby shop Mumzworld is also weighing a new funding round, people familiar with the matter have said.