File photo of SellAnyCar.com founder Saygin Yalcin. The secondhand car trading portal is now in for a major expansion across Saudi Arabia. Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

Dubai (Bloomberg): A unit of Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund is leading a $35 million funding round for SellAnyCar.com 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., CEO Saygin Yalcin 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 UAE 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 Mohammed Alabbar’s e-commerce firm Noon. It also set up a $1.1 billion fund of funds to invest in venture capital and private equity.

Tech deals

SellAnyCar.com, 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.

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 $700 million in funding last year, according to a MAGNiTT report.

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.